Border Policing: Gender, Human Rights & Security – Design

This project will engage key university, non-government and law enforcement agencies in the conduct of the fieldwork. It will establish new, and extend existing, relationships with NGOs and law enforcement agencies in the production of this research, ensuring the quality of its policy relevance and application for practitioners.

To achieve GOALS 1 and 2 I will use methodological strategies of qualitative data collection and analysis developed in prior successful research projects with Australian policing agencies (Pickering et al 2008) as well as populations of undocumented migrants and refugees in Australia, Burma and Thailand (Pickering & O’Kane 2002; Lambert, Pickering & Alder, 2003).

To achieve GOAL 1:

The evidence to be collected will focus on issues of occupational culture and gendered policing practices by border policing agents. In order to produce the locally grounded and globally significant rich picture (GOAL 4) a semi-structured interview sample will be undertaken in each site and will be comprised of 50 border policing agents in Australia, and 25 each in Italy and the US.

GOALS 1-4 require the collection of evidence to investigate the gendered dimensions of if, when, how and against whom the border is enforced. Data gathering and analysis will therefore collect information on the organizational culture on border policing decisions to identify, classify, process, detain and release unauthorized migrants.

To achieve GOAL 2:

The evidence to be collected to document and analyse the similarities and differences in experiences of border policing by migrant women and men who have crossed borders. In each country, 50 interviews with border crossers will be sampled in Australia, and 25 each in Italy and the US.

Data gathering will collect information on experiences of identification, classification, processing, detention and release in the border policing system. The interviews will be designed and analysed to explore the gendered dimensions of border crossing, understandings of the border, reasons for unauthorized migration to particular locales, experiences of border enforcement, and strategies for survival and empowerment during border negotiation.

To achieve GOAL 3:

The project will interpret evidence detailed above to consider criminological and criminological theories of social control (Melossi, 2004, Cohen, 1985) and international relations theories of statecraft (Devetak, 1995, Doty,1996) to develop a framework for the regulation and management of unauthorized migration that is responsive to issues of gender, human rights (including refugee protection and labour mobility) and national security.

Social control is an important theoretical framework for it will enable an investigation of both the formal and informal forms of control exerted at the border. Statecraft is important for it locates border policing within broader concern for new approaches to state sovereignty through a range of boundary inscription practices and criminal justice processes.

Using these theoretical frameworks this project uniquely examines the border policing of unauthorized mobility by integrating gender in an analysis and by so doing will transform our consideration of the broad phenomenon to better prepare for future challenges.