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Durham University

Durham Global Security Institute

Governing (Im-)Mobilities: International Borders, Borderlands, and Bordercities

'Moving Borders' by Himani Gupta

International Workshop at Durham University, UK, May 23-24, 2019

Call for Papers

Every day people and goods move across state borders. International borders are expressions of state power, delimiting where the sovereignty of one state begins and the sovereignty of another ends. They are created to control, stop, slow down or interrupt mobility and they are used to surveil and produce knowledge of who and what enters when and where onto the state’s territory.

Borders and border regimes are also sites of tensions and conflicts: stricter control of human movement and protectionism contrasts with the liberalisation of trade (in some goods) and the opening of markets. New technologies are applied to strengthen border regimes, but borders are nonetheless regularly and in multiple ways evaded, trespassed and penetrated. The position of state borders is often contested and can become a source of (violent) conflicts.

In times of increasing speed and velocity of movements and with the development of new technologies that facilitate both mobility and control, the material form and meaning attached to international boders appears to change. Borders themselves become more mobile with the development of virtual borders, biometric data collection points, DNA-index systems, geo-profiling or geospatial data-bases. These technologies have in common that they were developed and used to map, govern and control movement across and within borders.

The workshop aims to explore the transformation of borders and border regimes. It will look into conflicts this transformation generates, and discuss the implications this has for our understanding of the state, sovereignty and political authority more generally.

We invite papers that explore borders, borderlands and bordercities in theoretical, historical-comparative and/or in-depth empirical enquiries. The workshop aims to bring together scholars from different disciplines, including, but not limited to, history, geography, anthropology, sociology, economics, archeology, international relations, security and urban studies. We particularly invite papers on:

The Border’s Everyday: we seek to examine international borders from the perspective of those experiencing them in their everyday lives, be it state officials or security providers that are enacting the border; businesspeople that utilize the border attempting to enhance profits; people crossing the border for work, travel, or in search of safety; or residents of borderlands and border cities for whom international boundaries are everpresent but not always perceptible. This theme addresses how international borders are experienced, talked about and dealt with. It also seeks to examine the spatial aspects of the border, its architechture and morphology, the way it arranges objects and people and directs movement and interaction.

Governing the Border:new policies and political regimes to manage mobility within and between states and world regions emerge. These regimes invoke particular notions and discourses of security, make use of informational and mobile technologies and new forms of surveillance (dataveillance). With the application of biometric data, the border itself can become virtual and mobile (abeit at one point it needs to manifest physically to interrupt movement). In this section, we are interested in papers that study border regimes and how they make use of and perpetuate the development of mobile, smart or biometric borders; how border regimes assemble (security) discourses, technologies and people to govern mobility; how they develop policies that rationalise the errection of borders, and the way borders themsevles are assembled and managed.

Bordercities: cities located in borderlands often take particular shapes and forms, both physically and socially. International boundaries can divide cities or establish buffer zones within or in vicinity of such cities. Again, cities emerge or grow along international boundaries as people are able to make use of the border and to captialize on both movement and its restriction. In this section we invite papers that explore how international borders and border regimes shape city spaces and the experiences of city dwellers. We assume that processes of bordering, inclusion, exclusion and othering but also processes that increase connectivity are particularly pronounced by the density, heterogeneity and velocity that characterise city life.

Relationality of Borders:Borders, borderlands and bordercities do not exist in isolation but in relation to the social and physical space in which they are located. The cross-cutting theme of relationality invites papers to engage with relations between bordercities and borderlands and with relations to the state or to other spaces across or within international borders, such as national capitals, trade centres, port cities or more rural areas. We especially encourage participants to relate international borders to other forms of control, inclusion and exclusion and markers of identity including gender, sexuality, race, age etc.

Organisation and Organisers

The workshop is organised by Jutta Bakonyi ( and Raphaela Kormoll (, and hosted by the Durham Global Security Institute ( at the School of Government and International Affairs in collaboration with IBRU: Durham University’s Centre for Borders Research (

Deadline for submissions of abstracts is 30 January 2019

Please submit a paper outline of max. 1,500 words to, with the subject heading “Governing (Im-)Mobilities”. The following information should be included: name, position, affiliation and e-mail address.

The workshop will be organized in thematic sessions. Participants are expected to submit papers of around 5000 words. The deadline for submission of full papers is 2 May 2019. This enables participants to engage with the topics prior to the workshop, allows the workshop presentations to be kept short, and stimulates discussions.

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Raphaela Kormoll (

A note on 'Moving Borders' by Himani Gupta, March 2017:

An extension of the dialogue between data and artistic expression, this work explores boundaries and the role of surveillance in defining human movement and settlement. Himani worked with satellite images and drone footage of three cities to project their aerial views and manipulate them on canvas.

For more information on Himani Gupta and her work click here.

A collaboration between the Durham Global Security Institute (DGSi) and Durham University’s Centre for Borders Research (IBRU):