We are proud to announce the winners of the fifth Border Criminologies Masters Dissertation/Thesis Prize, who will receive £200 and £100 worth of Routledge books. For the first time this year, we welcomed submissions from different parts of the world focusing on immigration and border control in the India-Bangladesh border, Nigeria, Libya, and Indonesia, among others. 

 

Border Criminologies seeks to support early career researchers working on the intersections between border control and criminal justice. From a strong list of 12 entries, the competition panel, consisting of academics from the Border Criminologies Network identified the following winners:

Tiphaine Le Corre, winner, University of Oxford, 'The Politics of Deterring Unwanted Immigration to the United Kingdom'.  

Since the 1990s, British policymakers have increasingly attempted to deter asylum-seeking migrants from settling in the UK by implementing restrictive asylum policies. As such policies intensified alongside a sharp increase in the salience of immigration, scholars have questioned whether such measures were simply performative tools drawn to appease public discontent or whether they
effectively reduced immigration levels. This thesis addresses this debate by investigating whether restrictive asylum policies deter potential migrants from choosing the UK as their destination country and whether such policies align with the British public’s policy preferences. Both empirical chapters engage with the actual asylum policies currently enforced regarding safe third country provisions,
detention, deportation, access to legal aid, housing, work, medical care and cash payment support.
 
Drawing upon 27 interviews conducted in Northern France with aid workers in informal settlements and migrants in transit, I find that migrants are overwhelmingly uninformed about British asylum policies prior to their arrival. As such, I argue that restrictive asylum policies are largely ineffective at deterring potential migrants from choosing the UK as their destination country. Rather, prospective
asylum-seekers migrate to the UK for reasons that policymakers have little control over: the presence of family and friends, their ability to utilise such networks to work in the shadow economy and the appeal of the English language.
 
While such policies are ineffective at deterring potential migrants, they may nonetheless be popular with the British electorate. To test public support for restrictive asylum policies, I designed a conjoint experiment administered by YouGov to a nationally representative sample of the British public (N = 1703). This constitutes the first analysis of the British public’s multidimensional asylum policy preferences. I find that the British public expresses heterogeneous asylum policy preferences and that perceptions of deservingness condition support for asylum seekers’ rights and entitlements. Contrary to the expectations of the opinion-policy gap hypothesis, the British public does not systematically favour the implementation of harsher asylum policies. Tightening asylum policies indiscriminately and at great human cost may thus be both an ineffective and ‘blind’ strategy that fails to enhance asylum policies’ democratic legitimacy.

 

Tosin Durodola, Runner-up, University of Ibadan, 'Narratives of the Journey to Exile and Transformative Agency of Residual Liberian Refugees in Oru, Southwestern Nigeria'.  

The vast majority of refugees whose status has been terminated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) still find themselves in a protracted exilic situation in Africa. This study focuses on Liberian refugees domiciled in Nigeria who were displaced due to the Civil War of 1989 to 2003. Loss of refugee status and subsequent closure of the Oru Refugee Camp,
Ogun State by the Nigerian government in 2012 forced them to seek abode elsewhere in the host community, where they are exposed to vagaries of the new, self-made settlement without state or international protection. Although the termination of refugee status exposes residuals to vulnerability, not much of the extant literature explores their after-life outside camps.
 
To fill the research gaps, this study deployed ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interview of 29 participants to examine the narratives of the journey to exile and transformative agency of residual Liberian refugees in Oru town. The study engages Alex Honneth’s theory of recognition to probe their coping mechanisms and everyday lived experiences in the defamiliarised society, while
connecting their present experience to the memory of their journeys from Liberia. This study unpacks their actual exilic process and unravels how they navigate bordering and transform the former uninhabitable space into a cultural colony and an economic hub, even as their daily mobilities, livelihoods, and thrusts continue to influence contiguous towns and cities. This transformation is tied to home-making process, cultural practices, economic resourcefulness, and diaspora networks which strengthens their influence on the development of their host. This study contributes not only to the understanding of displacement, bordering, and the longer-term effects of conflict in Africa, which can exist for decades after ceasefire, but also how the transformative agency outside closed camps is informed by the memory of exilic journeys.

Congratulations to the winners! We would like to thank all those who submitted their work and hope that they will contribute to the Border Criminologies blog.