Call for Abstracts (review) : The Governance of Border Security in Practice

Call for Abstracts

Security Dialogue special issue

The Governance of Border Security in Practice


Guest editors, Karine Côté-Boucher, Federica Infantino, Mark B. Salter

To bring more focus to the myriad of social, political and economic actors involved in the governance of border security, we invite contributions that shed ethnographic light on the social practices and professional routines of the power-brokers involved in the securing of border mobilities in liberal democracies. By paying attention to the everyday and local exercise of sovereignty in border security policies implemented by state as well as non-state actors the special issue aims to produce new analytical perspectives on the management of borders in an age of global mobility of commodities, ideas, and people.

This special issue will explore the way borders are socially negotiated by the multiple actors appointed to implement border security. It will examine how competing fields, discourses and rationalities of governing intersect with the everyday practices of the bureaucratic and professional actors involved in the management of border security on different scales (local, regional, national, global), including in supranational organizations, non-state organizations, private companies, as well as national and local bureaucracies. Contributions may cover actors as wide-ranging as security professionals, national migration bureaucrats, NGOs, border guards, customs officers, drug enforcement teams, global customs and migration institutions, global policing agencies, private migration and security agencies. Because borders are diffuse, contributions that focus on security practices that do not only occur at the edges of states, through remote control strategies, within the state through naturalization tests, citizenship processes etc., as well as at the entry points of the territory (ports, airports, lands) are welcome.

The issue is in particular interested in papers based on ethnographic fieldwork and interview materials that illuminate dimensions which might remain obscure from an institutional perspective.

In this sense, ethnography is not merely understood as a ground-level research method but as a broad sensibility adding value to the study of power and politics.

Potential research questions include:

• What are the everyday practices of power brokers in border spaces (tasks, roles, tactics, strategies, work routines)?

• What resources (technologies, infrastructures, training, enforcement tools, policies) does border governance use? On which legal powers do it rely?

• How do implementing actors make use of their discretion? How accountable are they and to whom?

• How do border security actors interact with those who cross or are located within borders? How do they cooperate and struggle with other agencies intervening in border spaces? Which kinds of networks, social relations and social capital do they foster?

• What types of classifications of security, risk, mobilities, social hierarchies, commodities, objects and human beings permeate their practices?

• How do micro and meso-level bordering practices dovetail with, shape, dispute or transform border security discourses, rationalities, processes and institutions?

Abstracts (max 500 words) should be submitted to    by 17 March 2013.

(Deadline for first full drafts of accepted abstracts will be 1 June 2013)