Launched in April 2013, Border Criminologies was created at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford as part of Mary Bosworth’s European Research Council Starting Grant, ‘Subjectivity, Identity and Penal Power.’ In both its online format and within the University, Border Criminologies brings together an international group of academics, practitioners, and those who have experienced border control, disseminating high quality original research on the nature and effects of border control while exploring alternatives. Supported by a core group based in Oxford, the network and website have grown rapidly and continue to evolve as new researchers join in and content is added.

At year-end 2013, the Border Criminologies network included seventeen academic researchers and six postgraduate research students along with an international advisory group whose fourteen members represent academic, government, and non-government sectors. The website combines an active blog presenting a variety of research projects, teaching resources, publications, and information about forthcoming seminars. It also links to Border Criminologies’ active social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.

The blog has emerged as a particularly important feature of Border Criminologies' work. In 2013, we published over 80 entries on a variety of topics related to border control: immigration detention, border policing, research methods, visual methods, and maritime migration. Our website statistics indicate that over 8 months the blog was viewed approximately 21,000 times. The single most popular post so far has been that written by recent Oxford BCL graduate Celia Rooney, ‘Exploiting a Tragedy: The Securitization of EU Borders in the Wake of Lampedusa.’

In addition to the blog, we have extended the online presence of Border Criminologies through social media, with multiple Twitter feeds and posts on Facebook. As part of our focus on visual methods, we are slowly amassing images of border control on our Flickr account. While the main viewers of the website are from the UK, US, Canada, and Australia, Border Criminologies has viewers from countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. At the end of 2013, Border Criminologies was approached by Newstex, a web based business to syndicate our blog content, a development that has the potential to widen our reach significantly.

Members of the Border Criminologies group in Oxford and elsewhere were active in research and publication throughout 2013, presenting on their research in a variety of academic and professional venues. Examples of their publications can be found on the Research Publications page, while accounts of some of their research activity can be found on the Current Research page. Details about their teaching in this field can be found on the Teaching page, while examples of survey instruments can be found on the Research Surveys page.

In December 2013, Mary Bosworth was awarded a Leverhulme International Network Fellowship to link the Border Criminologies research group at Oxford with the Border Crossing Observatory group at Monash University and the Crime Control in the Borderlands of Europe team at the University of Oslo. As part of this network, Border Criminologies will set up and host a new open access SSRN journal on research in criminology and migration. In addition, it will create a forum for emerging researchers to discuss and share research methods and experiences. The Leverhulme grant will also fund a three-year Network Facilitator who will be able to assist with the management and development of the website.

Looking ahead

For 2014, we have several goals in mind. First, we will be launching a redesigned version of the Border Criminologies website so that the blog is clearly identifiable on a separate page. We hope the redesigned website will be more user-friendly. Once that is done we aim to consolidate the blog’s publishing schedule. Ideally, we would like to publish three posts per week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We will continue to build content on the website, with a specific focus on three main areas:

  1. teaching resources for criminology courses on border control, migration, and mobility;
  2. creating a postdoctoral research network; and
  3. creating a professional network for NGOs.

We intend to integrate more audio and visual content, starting with podcasts from two seminars that we are hosting in March 2014 on foreign national prisoners and everyday life in immigration detention.

As we develop the website, we will include more information about the research of the network members and create a blog for detainees, ex-prisoners, and those with experience of border control. Sarah Turnbull, who is currently conducting research on immigration detainees’ perspectives on home and belonging, has started to hand out cameras to women and men leaving detention, to record what happens next. The first photo essay from this project will appear as an entry on the blog in early 2014, while later images will be collated for further academic analysis. Combined with images taken in detention centres by members of Border Criminologies, these may form the basis of a future exhibition.

Border Criminologies is at an exciting stage. While still new, it has started to consolidate. We continue to experiment with new methods and modes of communication, reaching out to colleagues around the world. Alongside these web-based interactions, network members remain active in research and publications in more traditional academic arenas as well. As we move forward, we welcome comments, suggestions, and participation in these endeavours.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to Border Criminologies in 2013 and to those of you who follow the blog and Border Criminologies through social media. We wish you a happy new year!

Mary, Ines, and Sarah