Bodies at Borders: Analyzing the Objectification and Containment of Migrants at Border Crossing

Deadline: 7 March, 2022

By the end of 2020, the number of forcibly displaced people globally had reached 82.4 million as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations and events seriously disturbing public order (UNHCR, 2021). Efforts to prevent these people from crossing national boundaries have resulted in draconian legislation and the vilification of migrants at various international borders. In the Mediterranean, at the border with ‘fortress Europe’, there have been thousands of fatalities as migrants risk the treacherous crossing in tiny boats. The so-called ‘weaponization of migration’ is apparent in recent events on the Polish-Belarussian border as hundreds of asylum seekers are trapped between rival forces of armed soldiers. Under the UK government's 'hostile environment' policy, many legal immigration routes have been closed, and the rights of asylum seekers have been severely curtailed. The so-called 'migrant caravan', which began in Honduras in October 2018, prompted the US and Mexican governments to deploy active-duty military officers to the border, creating more chaos in the area. Of course, migration, displacement and border controls are not new and it can be illuminating to look to previous historical events in order to understand changes and continuities over time.

This Research Topic aims to bring together new empirical research and analysis from diverse locations across the world, including the Global South, where most migrants and refugees still reside. Using an intersectional lens, we aim to explore the complex interplay of diverse aspects of identities including class, age, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, etc. In so doing, we seek to advance knowledge on:

  1. The various policy measures that governments enact to control specific categories of international migration
  2. Learning lessons from history and previous waves of displacement
  3. The ways in which migrants are represented through a range of media and how these interact with state policies
  4. How migrants seek to resist negative representations and discriminatory policies in order to assert their own agency in negotiating national borders
  5. The ethical and empirical challenges of researching these topics in contexts that can be risky to researchers and participants
  6. Theoretical and conceptual frameworks that offer new nuanced understandings of these topics, including the voices of migrant organizations
  7. The participation of criminal organizations in human trafficking and extortion of migrants
  8. How local populations and organizations react and behave towards 'humanitarian tragedies'
  9. Creative responses to the migratory crisis at borders, including the actions of migrant-led initiatives

We welcome the submission of abstracts for this Research Topic and especially encourage contributions from researchers based in the Global South. We welcome contributions that pursue new lines of inquiry and address research gaps that remain to be addressed. We are keen to include both new empirical research, particularly using innovative methodologies, as well as more conceptual papers. We encourage contributions that apply an intersectional lens to analyze power dynamics and the interplay of, for example, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, religion, age, among other factors. 

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