As this year draws to a close, we are happy to share with you some of the activities of Border Criminologies and its members. We have had a quieter term this year than usual. Like everyone else, we are tired from the pandemic and concerned by the escalating attacks around the world on migrant and refugee rights. 2021 has been a difficult year. There are signs, however, of the real impact that scholarship, advocacy, and the energy and passion of new members of this scholarly effort have brought to the area of border criminologies.
In the UK, we write this newsletter less than a month after 27 people drowned in the Channel, as those seeking refuge have been pushed into ever more dangerous means of reaching safety in the UK. While details of the tragedy and those who died continue to trickle out, we stand by the statement Border Criminologies issued on 26 November, and call for both French and British governments to come together to provide safe passage for those wishing to make the journey from France to the UK.
These were not the first deaths at this particular border, and sadly, are unlikely to be the last. Other borders in Europe have also been deadly this year, whether in the forest of Belarus or in the Mediterranean. On land too, matters have worsened; with Greece in particular, offering a sobering vision of the future, as the country has built a series of new EU-funded carceral sites.
In the US, where matters initially looked more promising, the Biden Presidency has, perhaps inevitably, failed to roll back all of Trump’s restrictions. First, the Biden Administration has chosen to continue to expel noncitizens – nearly 1.3 million over the last year and a half – by deferring to COVID-based discretionary decisions by border officials. The administration has adopted the innovative statutory interpretation that the Trump Administration had fashioned to authorize these mass removals. That interpretation permits COVID concerns to override any other statutory authorizations for entry including the right to apply for asylum or other humanitarian legal protections. Second, the Remain in Mexico program (ironically dubbed “Migrant Protection Protocols” or “MPP”) has revived due to a court order. MPP requires asylum seekers arriving at the southern border to await asylum hearings outside the United States, which can take months or even years.
On the other hand, the current administration has taken positive steps that tend not to draw public scrutiny, such as reversing the expansion of “expedited removal” that authorized removals from anywhere in the interior without a court hearing. The Attorney General has also restored DACA protections for undocumented resident youth and shored up asylum protections based on gender and familial relationships, among many other changes.
Keeping note of reasons to feel positive, it is impossible to work in an educational institution and not feel some level of optimism, due to the presence of so many committed young people who are actively working towards change. As ever, Border Criminologies has been working with our students and with early career scholars, building capacity and setting up some new processes and outputs. We are fortunate to have a small group of people working with us on improving our communications.
This term we published 34 blog posts, including 7 book reviews and a themed series focusing on selected chapters from the newly published Handbook of Migration and Global Justice, edited by Leanne Weber and Claudia Tazreiter and published by Edward Elgar. You can read this term’s most read posts here, here, here, here and here. In our efforts to promote open access platforms we began a new collaboration with Geopolitics to widen access to academic scholarship on border criminology topics. As part of this collaboration, we engage with authors of full journal articles in order to publish companion pieces based on these articles, offering the article for free for a specific time period. Several posts are coming out next year based on this partnership.
Through the efforts of our Associate Directors Rimple Mehta and Ana Aliverti, we have been continuing to develop our ties with colleagues in the global south, inviting more contributions to the blog covering immigration and border control in South and Central America. Together they organised a panel ‘Southern Perspectives on Border Controls’ for the European Society of Criminology Conference 2021, where they presented a paper on ‘A Southern Criminology of Mobility’. In this context, we have also begun a new institutional partnership with the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Crimmigration and Border Control thematic group. Furthermore, for the first time this year, we welcomed submissions for the Border Criminologies Masters’ Dissertation/Thesis Prize from different parts of the world focusing on immigration and border control in the India-Bangladesh border, Nigeria, Libya, and Indonesia, among others. We are happy to announce that the winner and runner up of the 5th Border Criminologies Masters' Dissertation/Thesis Prize 2021 are Ms Tiphaine Le Corre with her dissertation on 'The Politics of Deterring Unwanted Immigration to the United Kingdom' and Mr Tosin Durodola with his dissertation on 'Narratives of the Journey to Exile and Transformative Agency of Residual Liberian Refugees in Oru, Southwestern Nigeria'. The winner and the runner up will receive £200 and £100 worth of Routledge books.
As you will see in the detail of the newsletter, people remain active in publishing, research, and activism. Vicky Canning has been particularly productive in all three areas, producing multiple books and even appearing on the right-wing UK GB news in an attempt to give an alternative viewpoint of the treatment of migrants and refugees at the UK border. Ana Aliverti launched her new book Policing the Borders Within, which draws on years of embedded research with immigration enforcement officers. In September, Maartje van der Woude organised and hosted the online CINETS/Border Criminologies conference. The vast array of topics covered revealed a robust and expanding global field of academic scholarship. While we are all tired of online interactions, that event showed the potential for them to bring in new voices.
Finally, this term, we have welcomed two new Associate directors, Anthea Vogl and Monish Bhatia, and we have said goodbye to Jennifer Koh. We have also said a temporary au revoir to Alpa Parmar, for the very best reasons, since she is on maternity leave.
We have plans afoot for a range of events in the new year, many of which are organised by our doctoral students. At the Law and Society Association conference in July, we will hold a series of panels that will share the work of several Border Criminologies members and provide a platform for global north and south interchanges. These panels break new ground: Devyani Prabhat and Katja Franko have brought together scholars who will open up the study of citizenship and border criminologies, and Maartje van der Woude and Juliet Stumpf’s panels explore globalizing crimmigration and its themes of violence, racialization, and colonialization. We hope also to host some masterclasses in the new year, and to continue our online seminars.
The global intersection of migration, racialization, and authority increasingly centralizes border criminologies and crimmigration in ways that impact individuals, families, and institutions on a mass scale. Border Criminologies continues to expand its role as a central hub of scholarly activity and resource for public understanding of consequences of how we draw and enforce borders, in every sense.
Although nobody is sad to see the end of 2021, we are working ever more intensively and collaboratively to broaden academic scholarship and to challenge restrictive policies. We will be back in January 2022, re-energised for the year ahead with new ideas, projects, and avenues for joining this expanding area. We look forward to hearing from you all then.
Mary Bosworth and Juliet Stumpf