CFP AAG 2016: DIGITAL BORDER STRUGGLES: Pro- and No-Border Activism and the Rise of Technologies for and against Migration Management


Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, March 29 – April 2, 2016

Pro- and No-Border Activism and the Rise of Technologies for and against Migration Management

Camilla Hawthorne, University of California, Berkeley
Martin Geiger, Carleton University, Ottawa

From passports to fingerprints to medical screenings, technology has been intertwined with border control and migration management and their multiple transformations since the emergence of the modern nation-state (Torpey 2000; Geiger 2014). In recent years, biometrics (Magnet 2011), drones, and other new technologies have further expanded the state’s bordering powers. At the same time, tools such as social media, GPS, and mobile phones are being actively re-appropriated by migrants and made central to their practices of spatial mobility; they also facilitate protests against newly emerging border regimes (Trimikliniotis et al. 2014).

In other words, modern forms of technology both suppress and control mobility, and simultaneously enable new forms of mobilization—for instance, by supporting new and existing activist communities; enabling solidarity between different groups and stakeholders; providing new platforms for the creative expression of non-obedience; and challenging media and policy discourses related to irregular migration, asylum seekers, and economic migration (c.f. Ponzanesi and Leurs 2014).
From at least the fifteenth century, the category of technology has developed in relation to processes of racialization and exclusion: technological advancement, understood as a marker of civilizational advancement, couched the violence of imperial ambitions in the teleological language of “improvement” (c.f. Adas 1989). Indeed, the origins of many modern bordering technologies can be traced to the need to control the movements of colonized and enslaved populations (Browne 2012). More recently, revelations of large-scale telecommunication surveillance have thrown into question utopian predictions that digital technologies—by allowing the formation of new, sprawling networks not subject to geopolitical borders—would lead to human liberation. Far from eroding borders, new technologies enable equally new forms of control over mobility and support the “disciplining of transnational mobility” (c.f. Geiger and Pécoud 2014), sometimes even before migrants leave their countries of origin.
The violent realities of technologically mediated bordering suggest that, far from transcendence through abstract digital flows, technologies can enable oppressive forms of (re)territorialization. Yet, simple technological determinisms are insufficient for capturing the complexity of these developments. Technologies are always embedded within complex webs of institutions, actors, spaces, and histories such that their effects are never fully determined, even as they fundamentally transform the conditions of possibility for action on an international scale.

The aim of this session is to examine the myriad ways in which these new technologies not only shape and facilitate the ordering, control, and management of people at borders and areas of transit, arrival, or destination; but to also interrogate the ways in which they enable, support, and enhance political mobilizations among migrants, refugees, and activists against border control and migration management.

These new protest movements challenge dominant portrayals of migrants as merely “uprooted” (Malkki 1992), passive subjects of geography; they also struggle for a more just world order in which control over global mobility is no longer the monopoly of states and newly dominant international entities (see, e.g., Georgi 2010), or unevenly distributed based on one’s position within a racial and gendered global division of labor (Massey 1994; Gregory 2007).
Geographers, and geographically oriented analyses more broadly, can contribute to existing, yet “anemic” geographies (Sparke 2005; c.f. Mitchell 1997) of technology and especially of the “digital.” Indeed, new technologies of bordering and “management” as well as technologies that are used to subvert borders and migration “managerialism” are actively reshaping both the material and affective geographies of the contemporary world—including the fraught and power-laden categories of state, nation, race, and citizen.
For this session, we welcome both empirically grounded and theoretical contributions, including those that draw from related fields such as migration studies, communication studies, and science and technology studies. We encourage submissions that address recent developments in the fortification of borders in Europe, North America and other world regions, as well as empirical case studies of new technologies in practice. We aim to publish a selected number of papers in an edited volume or special issue.

Potential paper topics might address, but are not limited to, the following topics:
• Studies of digitally mediated activism, both in support of and against immigration.
• Migrants’ use of technologies in support of (spatial) mobility and (political) mobilization.
• Critical and geographically informed perspectives on “digital diasporas” (c.f. Brinkerhoff 2009; Alonso and Oiarzabal 2010; Oiarzabal & Ulf-Dietrich Reips 2012; Bernal 2014).
• Enrolment of technologies, both new and old, in emerging regimes of bordering and migration management: surveillance systems; the overlap between migration control and anti-terrorism programs; “humanitarian” interventions (e.g., anti-trafficking programs); the telescoping of borders both within and beyond the territorial borders of nation-states.
• Technological practices of inscribing borders, challenging borders, and imagining alternative cartographies.
• Engagements with specific, material technologies (e.g., the drone, the biometric passport, facial recognition software, risk assessment algorithms, watch list databases, virtual border fences) and their entanglement with border management.

Potential session participants should contact Camilla Hawthorne ( by 15 August 2015 to indicate their interest in participating in the session. Please include a proposed title and 200-word abstract.

CFP AAG 2016: Borders and Sovereignty

CFP Borders and Sovereignty, AAG 2016 San Francisco, March 29-April 02

Title: Borders and Sovereignty

This session will focus on borders and sovereignty and is open to papers that address the following theme(s): the history of borders and territorialities; how borders shapes the lives and/or livelihoods of borderlanders; how people in border areas influence the border and are influenced by the border; how modern state borders to control people’s movements; the use of new technologies and instruments to control people’s movement across borders; new opportunities and conflicts created by the hardening of borders; and the movement of people and goods across borders.

When to Submit

Send an email inquiry to me now if you are interested in joining this session ( Abstracts are due to me by October 20, 2015.


Reece Jones, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

Md Azmeary Ferdoush, PhD student, Department of Geography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA.

Thank you very much for reading and considering our session.


Reece Jones

Md Azmeary Ferdoush

CFP AAG 2016: Student Engagement in Community Service

Call for Papers: AAG 2016 San Francisco, CA 

Session Title: Student Engagement in Community Service

Organizers: Sallie Marston (University of Arizona) and Vincent Del Casino (University of Arizona)

Student engagement – meaningful, hands-on experiences for undergraduates through research, foreign travel or community service – has long been a hallmark of higher education in the US. Existing programs that enabled self-selected students to gain practical skills and professional competencies from activities offered outside the classroom have included study abroad, structured internships, and volunteer or part-time paid work on faculty research projects. With the new movement in the US to provide engagement across the entirety of the undergraduate population, even in large public institutions, there are enormous challenges to administrators and faculty to expand existing programs and develop new ones. Alongside the basic logistical challenges of providing these new engagement opportunities are the political questions about what sorts of experiences should be offered, how to collaborate effectively with communities, how to best prepare students to exercise respect and openness in their engagements, and what the outcomes of a successful experience should and can be.

In this CFP we invite submissions that address the student engagement phenomenon from the perspective of community service and that can make a range of contributions to the ongoing discussions about it.

Papers might consider topics including, but not limited to:

+   fostering progressive leadership through student engagement in community

+   assessments of successful/unsuccessful programs

+   cultivating an ethic of community service among undergraduates

+   mobile technologies for engagements in the community

+   the politics of student engagements in the community

+   the challenges of managing faculty and staff workload in developing and undertaking community service projects

+   defining student and programmatic learning outcomes related to community service
Submissions:  Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words by email to Sallie Marston ( by Monday, October 12, 2015. Successful submitters will be expected to register and submit their abstracts online on the AAG website by Thursday, October 29, 2015 with a session proposal deadline of November 18, 2015.

CFP AAG 2016: Paper Sessions(s) on The Agency of Place in a More-than-human World

Call for Papers

2015 American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting

San Francisco, CA

March 29-April 2, 2016

Paper Sessions(s) on The Agency of Place in a More-than-human World

We are organizing session(s) at the American Association of Geographers annual meeting in San Francisco around research and creative activities that explore place as an active agent in the lives of humans and nonhumans. Instead of thinking about place as a locale or background experience, we would like to engage in a discussion about the agency of place to motivate and guide dialogue, struggle, activism, and projects in defense of the pluriverse. Examples of contributions may include scholarly and creative work that seeks to understand place as an agent of ontological pluralism or its role in political agonism and partnership. We also welcome ethnographic and collaborative research with communities whose ontologies recognize the capacity of place to teach, create, and speak across ontological boundaries. In short, we envision this session as an opportunity to think through the agency of place in defending and nourishing the more-than-human communities and ontologies of the pluriverse, which, following Marisol de la Cadena, we define as “partially connected heterogeneous socionatural worlds negotiating their ontological disagreements politically.”

Our session is motivated first and foremost by Indigenous ontologies that recognize the agency of place as a creator, teacher, and guide in kinship relationships. These and other place-based ontologies are currently working through a variety of social movements around the world in what Isabelle Stengers has conceptualized as an agonistic “cosmopolitics” in which the “cosmos refers to the unknown constituted by . . . multiple, divergent worlds and to the articulation of which they would eventually be capable.” Arturo Escobar has argued that these place-based social activisms and struggles are creating the transition discourses that “posit radical cultural and institutional transformations – indeed, a transition to an altogether different world.” Importantly for this session, transition discourses are grounded in the agency of place and in “the fact that the re/constitution of place-based (though not place-bound) societies are not only possible but perhaps inevitable.”

Although our inspiration for this session comes from Indigenous thinkers and contemporary scholarship on the place-based politics of the pluriverse (e.g., Arturo Escobar, Walter Mignolo, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Leroy Little Bear, the Bawaka collective), we are open to any work that explores the agency of place in contemporary ontological pluralism and agonism. We cast our net widely but foresee contributions engaging such topics as:

  • Indigenous activism
  • Insurgent ecologies, biopolitics, and natural contracts
  • Place-based environmental activism and social movements
  • Land-based affinity movements/geoanarchism
  • Theoretical developments and debates engaging place in posthumanism/more-than-humanism, ontological pluralism, multinaturalism, cosmopolitics, and the Anthropocene.

If you are interested in participating in this session, please contact either one of the session organizers by September 30, 2015:

Soren Larsen                                                                Jay T. Johnson
Department of Geography                                           Department of Geography
University of Missouri                                                 University of Kansas                                          

CFP AAG 2016: Contemporary Migration by Boat and Border Enforcement: The governance, representation, spatialities and humanitarian realities of people migrating by boat at sea.


Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, March 29 – April 2, 2016


Contemporary Migration by Boat and Border Enforcement:

The governance, representation, spatialities and humanitarian realities of people migrating by boat at sea.



Elaine Burroughs, Maynooth University, Ireland

Keegan Williams, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada


Outline of topic/Background:

The migration of people by precarious and unauthorized boat methods at sea has increased substantially in recent years. This practice has gained significant attention from a range of actors, including governing authorities, political elites, the media, and NGOs. Although the sea has become a space of hope/desperation for migrants, it has also become a space of conflict over territory and sovereignty (Mountz, 2013). The critical literature on borders and exclusion shows that wealthier states have enacted a “policy of containment” designed to keep most migrants out (Castles, 2003). Border enforcement at sea is premised on this idea of containment. To this end, state authorities, like border guards and immigration agencies, have built systems to force migrants back before, during, or after arrival at the physical border (Hyndman & Mountz, 2008; Samers, 2004). Previous literature notes that this increased enforcement will be associated with increased loss of life as migrants take more dangerous journeys to evade authorities (Betts, 2006; Collyer, 2007). Indeed, not only are the number of people travelling by boat increasing, but the number of deaths are also increasing, especially in areas such as the Mediterranean (IOM, 2014; UNHCR, 2015).

The issue of containment of migrant boats emerged as early as the late 1970s (Mountz, forthcoming). Great concern about movement at sea was generated in Australia, the EU and the USA in the 1990s (Lutterbeck, 2006). Increasing publicity of migrant boat incidents worldwide reinforces these concerns and the security threats they reportedly pose (Pugh, 2001). State authorities attempt to combat migration by boat through various enforcement measures (e.g. the EU’s Operation Triton and NAVFOR Med). The causes of this humanitarian issue, however, are complex, and authorities inadequately and improperly use search and rescue services to address the situation. A number of scholars and non-governmental organisations have discussed the humanitarian and legal realities of migration by boat and border enforcement at sea (Gammeltoft-Hansen, 2008; Carling & Hernandez-Carretero, 2011); however, few studies have analysed their empirical relationship. We also have little information on what happens to migrants after their journeys at sea end. These gaps exist despite the importance of the continual “crisis” which migration by boat represents to these states.


Aim of session:

The key aim of this session is to specifically examine the current migration of people by boat at sea and the multiple instances of this practice from around the world. We wish to bring together scholars interested in this area and to advance knowledge on this topic within the field of geography. We aim to explore the full spectrum of processes involved in the migration of people by boat, from the reasons why people do so, to the attempt to control and “manage” this type of migration, through to what happens to these migrants once their “journey” at sea ends. Of particular interest to this session are papers that: (1) identify the empirical realities and outcomes of migration by boat; (2) describe the relationship between migration by boat and modern border enforcement in wealthier states; and (3) explore how migration at sea is represented by authorities and the media.

Regional examples include (but are not exclusive to): Australia/Indonesia, Canada, the European Union (e.g., Canary Islands; Spain; Italy/Malta; Greece), Malaysia and the United States of America.


Potential session participants should contact Elaine Burroughs ( and Keegan Williams ( by 28 September 2015 to indicate their interest in participating in the session. Please include a proposed title and a 200-word abstract.