The events of the past year demonstrated that the world entered a new period of flux and uncertainty at borders. While scholars have noted the expansion of walls, security infrastructure, migrant detention, and militarized enforcement for a decade or more, in 2017 actions that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago became the new normal. 

In Europe, the compassion for people on the move that existed in the early stages of the ‘migration crisis’ dissipated as countries built fences and walls and used force to prevent people from moving. Fortifying European spaces against migrants coincided with offshoring of migrant detention and deterrence, such as the EU deals with the troubled Libyan regime to detain people on the move in camps in Libya, despite evidence of the horrendous conditions, violence, and even slavery that occurs there. Italy also began to work with the Libyan coast guard to push boats back to Libya, rather than providing aid and shelter. Migrant aid boats were detained, and their operators were accused of aiding human traffickers. 

In the US, newly emboldened Immigration and Customs Agents targeted long-term residents with families and stable jobs for deportation. Plans were made to build new walls on the US-Mexico border, to hire thousands of additional immigration agents, and to cut legislated immigration quotas in half. In Southeast Asia, Malaysia and Thailand put in place new regulations to crack down on migrant labor through registration systems, while the persecuted Rohingya minority, the “most friendless people in the world,” were greeted by slammed doors seemingly wherever they sought refuge in the region. In 2017, in places across the globe, there was a global shift in mood towards nationalist policies and against the rights of people to move.

For the session, we are looking for papers that document and analyze the new (ab)normal at borders. What are the strategies and tactics the state, and non-state actors, use to prevent the movement of people? Where are the locations they are put into place? What impact do they have on people on the move and people who live in the ever widening borderlands? What do these changes tell us theoretically about borders, sovereignty, mobility and the state?

Potential session participants are should contact Reece Jones ( and Corey Johnson ( by 15 September (or earlier) to indicate your interest in participating in the sessions.