Perspectives on the border control industry – Recap of GRS seminar

Perspectives on the border control industry – Recap of GRS seminar

On May 25-26th, Global Refugee Studies hosted a public research seminar as part of a forthcoming book project with Routledge. At the seminar three researchers questioned the common-place assumptions about cataclysmic climate migration waves threatening Western countries. Instead they tried to identify more accurate potential risks with climate change, regions affected, and dynamics of border control, and the drivers behind these.

The first talk was given by the invited speaker, April Humble. During her talk, she focused on how border control is becoming increasingly secured in different regions across the globe, which is mainly being shaped by a Western agenda. The closing of borders and prevention of movement limits opportunities and makes safe migration far more difficult and dangerous. Moreover, she said that the closure of borders poses great threats to populations living under increasing pressures in the 21st century, namely climate change as well as population growth.             

Richa Kumar

The second talk was given by Global Refugee Studies’ Martin Lemberg-Pedersen. In his presentation, he focused on European policies on climate change and migration, pointing out that these European policies over time first securitized climate migration, but then moved towards a neoliberal conceptualization of migration as an adaptation and resilience-strategy. However, since 2015 re-securitization seems to have occurred. Part of this, he said, involved a reinforced policy drive towards externalization of border control, in particular to North African and Middle Eastern countries. He emphasized that we need to recognize that this externalization policy is not only driven by nationalistic policies, but also by lobbyism for the creation of profitable export markets for European and Western arms industry.

In an ironic twist to this border control seminar, the third speaker, Richa Kumar, was forced to make her presentation over Skype, as she was prohibited from gaining the necessary visa to travel to Denmark. In her presentation she covered several aspects of the border control and security industry. She pointed out that the security market is constructed in alignment with corporate interests of major security and defense companies in relation with their public counterparts. Kumar discussed how these processes of intensified blurring between public and private risk destabilizing the conventional association of public being political and private being apolitical and profit-oriented. Finally, she argued that with migration control being increasingly profit-driven, there is a danger of watering down established norms of the refugee protection regime with complete circumvention of questions of accountability and responsibility. 

Photo above: Martin Lemberg-Pedersen and April Humble.


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