I’ve just published a new paper in the journal Geopolitics on “Competing Para-Sovereignties in the Borderlands of Europe”. The abstract is below. It is part of a special issue organized by Kristine Beurskens and Judith Miggelbrink on “Sovereignty Contested.”
Abstract: This article is broadly concerned with how we conceptualise the geography of the tensions between the nominally stable orders of the modern state system against the turbulence of the past few decades in relation to that order, especially in the realm of border controls. Specifically, it considers the rescaling and relocation of border enforcement in the European Union in relation to state sovereignty. The article argues that existing “soft” conceptualisations of the EU’s relationship to sovereignty and bordering—“shared,” “joint,” “multi-level,” “consociational”—are inadequate to understand the transformations of exercises of sovereign power in European borderlands. Instead, we are witnessing the emergence of competing para-sovereignties acting within the same spaces, with both traditional states and the incipient state-like EU fulfilling particular bit roles in realms that were traditionally viewed as the exclusive responsibilities of modern, sovereign, territorial states. This dynamic is made visible in recent years in observing individual humans negotiate and subvert the fluid political geographies of European border space. Examples are taken from the activities of the EU border agency Frontex in southeastern Europe.
Just out in the journal Political Geography (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2017.02.006)
Interventions on the state of sovereignty at the border
Reece Jones, Corey Johnson, Wendy Brown, Gabriel Popescu, Polly Pallister-Wilkins, Alison Mountz, and Emily Gilbert
“Inspired by recent scholarship in political geography, political science, and border studies, these interventions spatialize the sovereignty of the state at the border by considering how scholars should interpret the global expansion of security infrastructure ranging from new walls to the deployment of drones and military hardware to monitor and secure space. The interdisciplinary group of scholars was asked to intervene on the question: What is the state of sovereignty at the border?
The common thread throughout the intervention is that while borderlands and borderlines remain significant, a series of new locations—what we term corridors, camps, and spaces of confinement—have emerged as key sites to understand the practice of sovereignty through borderwork.”
Reece Jones and I have a new paper in Territory, Politics, Governance on “The biopolitics and geopolitics of border enforcement in Melilla.”
Abstract: This article uses the multiple and contradictory realities of Melilla, a pene-enclave and -exclave of Spain in North Africa, to draw out the contemporary practice of Spanish, European Union, and Moroccan immigration enforcement policies. The city is many things at once: a piece of Europe in North Africa and a symbol of Spain’s colonial history; an example of the contemporary narrative of a cosmopolitan and multicultural Europe; a place where extraterritorial and intraterritorial dynamics demonstrate territory’s continuing allure despite the security challenges and the lack of economic or strategic value; a metaphorical island of contrasting geopolitical and biopolitical practices; and a place of regional flows and cross-border cooperation between Spain, the EU, and Morocco. It is a border where the immunitary logic of sovereign territorial spaces is exposed through the biopolitical practices of the state to ‘protect’ the community from outsiders. In light of the hardening of borders throughout European and North African space in recent years, this article offers a rich case study of our persistently territorial world.
Placing the Border in Everyday Life, co-edited by Reece Jones and myself, has won the Association of Borderlands Studies Past President’s Gold Book Award. The ABS Past Presidents’ Book Award is presented to any published monograph (single or multiple authored, including edited) in the social and natural sciences, and humanities involving original research on borders, borderlands and border regions, and reviewed in the Journal of Borderlands Studies. This is really a testament to the great contributions by some of the leading scholars in border studies.
Reece Jones and I have a forthcoming paper (paywall) in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers entitled “Border militarisation and the re-articulation of sovereignty.”
Abstract: This paper identifies a global trend towards hardened, militarised borders through the use of military technologies, hardware and personnel. In contrast to claims of waning state sovereignty, drawing on detailed case studies from the United States and European Union, we argue the militarisation of borders represents a re-articulation and expansion of state sovereignty into new spaces and arenas. We argue that the nexus of military-security contractors, dramatically increased security budgets, and the discourse of threats from terrorism and immigration is resulting in a profound shift in border security. The construction of barriers, deployment of more personnel and the investment in a wide range of military and security technologies from drones to smart border technologies that attempt to monitor, identify and prevent unauthorised movements are emblematic of this shift. We link this increasing militarisation to dehumanisation of migrant others and to the increasing mortality in border spaces. By documenting this trend and identifying a range of different practices that are included under the rubric of militarisation, this paper is both a call for nuanced interpretation and more sustained investigation of the expansion of the military into the policing of borders.
A report entitled “Reducing Vulnerability: A Transatlantic Approach to Energy Security” has just been released by the American Institute of Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University. My colleague Raimund Bleischwitz of University College London and I wrote a piece for this report on “The global resource nexus: Water challenges and policy conclusions.”
We presented some findings at an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC, in February, and several of us will be presenting the final published report at meetings in Berlin in early May.
Here’s my take on the question for the London School of Economics’ European Politics and Policy blog: http://bit.ly/1wtXOU8 .
The reliance of European states on gas imports from Russia has been one of the key underlying factors shaping the EU’s response to the Ukraine crisis. However could the use of shale gas help to reduce the EU’s energy dependence on Russia? Corey Johnson assesses the varying policy responses in European countries, noting that while some states such as Poland have been vocal in their support for shale gas, it is unlikely to enable a significant shift away from Russian gas in the short-term.