Bordering, control, struggle

This research challenge seeks to understand people’s different capacities to move and how lives are shaped by constraints on movement (across and within borders), enforced mobility and access to citizenship. It analyses how borders produce and manage difference. It attends to how borders are enforced and challenged, and it makes efforts to counter ‘methodological nationalism’ – for example, by exploring how histories of colonisation and anti-colonial struggles shape cross-border movements and contemporary immigration controls.

This research challenge is focussed on the regulation and governance of movement, how this produces certain subjects and how people comply or resist. Conflicts have arisen historically between social actors seeking freer and safer movement and those determined to tighten controls on mobility. We connect this to questions of ‘differential inclusion’ where people’s presence is (barely) tolerated when they attempt to stop moving. This means taking into account how the violent ruptures of modernity – such as enclosure, colonialism, slavery and partition­ – have had on-going implications for techniques of mobility control and people’s resistance to them. Through theoretical, historical and empirical work we seek to understand and challenge the structural inequalities and systems of domination, such as ‘race’, caste, class, gender, age and nationality, that restrict rights and freedoms in the global world in different ways. In order to do so, we ask:

  • How do people differently devise moves and tactics to circumnavigate and resist constraints on their freedom?
  • What are the links between historical and contemporary techniques used by states, social groups and political organisations to control and prevent the unwanted movement of particular populations?
  • How can past efforts by rightless and marginalised people to move closer to freedom shed light on the pursuit and practice of freedom by such people today?
  • How can narratives and lived experiences of mobilities problematise and expose the limits and ambivalences of dichotomies such as resistance/accommodation, agency/control, freedom/domination?

Selected research projects:

Research challenge co-ordinator:

Dr Angelo Martins Junior, Research Associate, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies