In this first post for the 2017 – 2018 academic year, I want to map out some of our plans for the forthcoming academic year, and welcome some new partners.  As we gear up for a new academic year, irregular migration remains high on the policy and academic agenda as do border controls.  In managing such matters, states and the private sector pursue innovative and familiar tactics, usually out of sight and beyond scrutiny. Border Criminologies remains committed to producing original research and evidence on such practices that seeks both to scrutinize and, where possible, to ameliorate them.  It’s going to be another busy year, so I hope everyone is well-rested!  

Events

Our first event this academic year is being held together with the Monash Border Observatory, in the Monash Campus in Prato, Italy. Drawing together a wide-range of international students, this three-day research student Masterclass will offer instruction in writing, research and publication, reflecting our shared commitment to training the next generation of scholars.

We will be running our usual series of seminars in Oxford, information about which will be posted on the website.  Where possible these will be recorded and uploaded to our iTunes account.

In April 2018 Border Criminologies turns five! Plans are underway to celebrate our birthday with a two-day workshop at the Centre for Criminology in Oxford. More information to follow soon.

In June 2018 Border Criminologies will also be part of an international workshop on Immigration Detention in Montreal, funded by the Canadian Social Science Foundation.  Papers from this event will be published on the SSRN and summaries on the blog.  Various members of the Border Criminologies network will attend.

Blog & Outreach

The blog remains a central part of our outreach, showcasing original research from around the world, first-hand accounts of border control, and book reviews, with more than 10,000 unique visitors per month. Increasingly, the blog has developed additional strands in mentoring younger scholars and in facilitating knowledge exchange beyond the academy. Our contributors last year came from across the globe, including the US, Australia, Sudan, Morocco and a range of countries in Europe.

Supporting the website and extending the reach of the blog and the website, we have an active and growing following on Twitter and Facebook.

As part of our commitment to outreach, Border Criminologies launched a number of new initiatives last year including:

-A Masters’ Dissertation/Thesis Prize, which is being generously supported by Routledge, and seeks to reward and encourage the next generation of scholars by focusing on Masters students who produce outstanding research dissertations. 

-New Working Papers Series and NGO Reports series, which will be part of the wider SSRN’s Criminal Justice, Borders & Citizenship Research Paper Series. They provide an opportunity to publish academic work containing research results promptly and enhance the visibility and dissemination of NGO reports. 

-The Guest Twitter project, which aims to give the floor to emerging scholars, researchers, and practitioners from around the world to share their work, ideas, opinions and news from their countries, etc through our @BorderCrim Twitter account.

This year we plan to add more visual content, in the form of short videos about members’ projects and, depending on funding, structured conversations with scholars and practitioners around the world.

Projects

A number of projects in Oxford came to an end in 2016-17, including Ines Hasselberg’s ERC postdoctoral fellowship on the post-colonial prison, and the Leverhulme International Network on External Border Control.  Mary Bosworth’s ERC grant, closes at the end of September. 

Other Oxford-based projects continue. For example, Mary Bosworth and Alpa Parmar’s John Fell Fund project on ‘policing migration’ was extended until June 2018 while the ESRC-funded project on ‘Understanding the current and future challenges of Immigration detention’ will report in January 2018 on how National Preventive Mechanisms operate, the difficulties they face and their impact on achieving change in detention in Turkey, Greece, Hungary and Italy.

The detention centre for unaccompanied minors in Athens

Finally, the Immigration Detention Archive is moving to the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford and should, for the first time, be open for wider consultation.

Elsewhere a number of our members began new projects or are continuing with existing research.  Liza Schuster, for example, is currently in Kabul leading a team of young Afghan researchers on an ESRC-AHRC GCRF funded project. Together, they are following 18 families, exploring their plans, hopes and fears for the future; exploring the representation of migration and migration in Afghan oral culture; and examining the influence of European states on Afghan migration policies. Efrat Arbel is currently analysing the rights of refugees and other border crossers along the Canada-US border, having secured grants, both from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.  Ana Aliverti was awarded a Warwick Impact Fund project grant on ‘Policing the Borders Within: Law Enforcement in a Global Age.’

Funding and Building for the Future

As the large grants have come to an end, we have started looking for replacement funding in earnest. At the end of last year we began a new institutional partnership with the European Border Communities research group headed by Prof. Maartje van der Woude at Leiden University law school who has generously agreed to take over the funding of the SSRN in 2018, keeping the academic publications of the Border Criminologies network members free to download. We are also very pleased to announce partnerships with Goldsmith Chambers and Garden Court Chambers whose donations will allow the core work of the website to continue after September.  While other applications are in the pipleline, the funding climate remains challenging, so we would appreciate ideas and leads in this regard.

Conclusion

Border Criminologies has, from the outset, sought to contribute to academic and policy debates over the growing intersections between criminal justice and immigration control. It has also always championed mentorship and policy-impact. For junior scholars in particular, the editorial team offer a significant amount of support, assisting with writing and publication and career development.

From a small, core group based in Oxford, we have grown over the past 4 and a half years to become a global network of scholars, activists and policy makers. As countries around the world reveal no let-up in their bid to close borders and as the numbers of people on the move continues to grow, social science and legal researchers have an important role to play in contributing to a better informed academic and public understanding. Much remains to be done.  

Mary Bosworth