Post by Mary Bosworth, Director, Centre for Criminology and Border Criminologies. 

us elections

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Four years ago, Border Criminologies published a series of posts around the US election, both prior to and after the result was known.  Although this time, the results are different – with voters having rejected Trump’s bid for a second term, much of what I wrote then remains relevant. In particular, as in November 2016, “the US election result, shines a harsh light on the entrenched nature of social exclusion and its apparent political legitimacy.  For many people of colour and for those in LGBT communities, women, and the poor, this is nothing new.” Although the Biden/Harris ticket won, a significant proportion of the population came out in support of Trump, despite his handling of the COVID pandemic, despite his support for separating children from their parents at the border and despite his pledge to end Obamacare. The US is not out of the woods yet, especially as the Trump administration continues to refuse to concede the result.

And so, once again, we have invited a series of scholars to comment on the likely impact of the election on border control practices.  Specifically, we have invited people to think about what the Biden/Harris team could do differently and what they should do as a matter of urgency.  Given everyone’s current level of exhaustion and work load, we anticipate the posts will come in over time. Rather than wait for them all to be written, we have decided to start the series today, with a helpful overview by Hallam Tuck, whose doctoral dissertation at the Centre for Criminology, explores all-foreign national ‘criminal alien requirement’ (CAR) prisons in the US.  In his post, Hallam starts by examining the impact of the election on the private security sector before turning to a wide range of issues that flow from the result.  While he identifies a number of opportunities for the incoming President, he also sounds a note of warning about the barriers Biden will face.

In 2016, I was concerned about the diminishing role of academic expertise in the face of rising xenophobic populism.  As I wrote then, “In a world where ‘experts’ have become the adversary, we need to think about more creative ways of communicating our findings.” Back then, I had no idea the extent to which political leaders would brazenly lie and seek to pervert the foundations of liberal democracy.  While It is clear that a small, university-based website like Border Criminologies can do little against such forces, I am proud of the way in which we continue to disseminate academic evidence via the blog, on YouTube, on the interactive map, Landscapes of Border Control, and of course, perhaps most importantly, in the classroom.

We continue to live in difficult times. The pandemic is far from over, and here in the UK we seem to be falling towards a no-deal Brexit. The last four years have been extremely damaging to democracy.  But as the results of the US election show, people have kept fighting. New alliances have been formed, and enduring ones have remained strong.  The role of community activism in getting out the vote has been particularly cheering, as has the new generation of young activists and scholars.  I long for when we can feel like the worst is behind us, but we are not there yet.  Over the next weeks and months, I look forward to learning from colleagues about how the US might set out on a different pathway and how the academy can play a role in shifting discourses, policies and understandings of migration and border control.

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How to cite this blog post (Harvard style) 

Bosworth, M. (2020). Border Criminologies in Uncertain Times: A Response to the US Election. Available at: https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2020/11/border [date]