Borders and justice

A postscript

in Focaal
Mary Bosworth University of Oxford

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In this piece I offer an overview of the theme section and reflect on the relationship between academic studies and social justice. By comparing anthropology with my home discipline of criminology, I point to some shared and distinct contributions practitioners in these fields can make to our understanding about border control. Without being too pessimistic, I warn about the limits of ‘humanizing’ research subjects as a means to bring about progressive change, and suggest instead, drawing on the work of the theme section, that more needs to be done alongside and with individuals and local communities.

Contributor Notes

Mary Bosworth is Professor of Criminology and Fellow of St Cross College at the University of Oxford, where she is Director of the Centre for Criminology and Director of Border Criminologies, an interdisciplinary research group focusing on the intersections between criminal justice and border control. Concurrently, she is Professor of Criminology at Monash University. She has published widely on race, gender, and citizenship with a particular focus on prisons and immigration detention. She is currently working on several projects on detention and deportation in the United Kingdom, Greece, and Italy. Email:

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Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology

  • Aliverti, Ana. 2016. “Researching the global criminal court.” In Changing contours of criminal justice: Research, politics and policy, ed. Mary Bosworth, Carolyn Hoyle, and Lucia Zedner, 7386. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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  • Bosworth, Mary. 2014. Inside immigration detention. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Bosworth, Mary. 2017. “Penal humanitarianism? Punishment in an era of mass migration.” New Criminal Law Review 20 (1): 3965.

  • Bosworth, Mary, Katja Franko, and Sharon Pickering. 2018. “Punishment, globalization and migration control: ‘Get them the hell out of here.’Punishment & Society 20 (1): 3453.

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  • Bourgois, Philippe. 1996. In search of respect: Selling crack in El Barrio. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Brown, David. 2017. “The birth of criminology in colonial South Asia: 1765–1947.” In Crime, criminal justice, and the evolving science of criminology in South Asia India, Pakistan, and Banglades, ed. Shahid M. Shahidullah, 3554. London: Springer.

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  • Carrington, Kerry, Russel Hogg, and Maximo Sozzo. 2016. “Southern criminology.” British Journal of Criminology 56 (1): 120.

  • Fassin, Didier. 2013. Enforcing order: An ethnography of urban policing. Cambridge: Polity.

  • Gibson, Mary, and Nicole Rafter. 2006. Criminal man. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Kaufman, Emma. 2015. Punish and expel: Border control, nationalism, and the new purpose of the prison. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Harding, Richard. 1999. “Prisons are the problem: A re-examination of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal deaths in custody.” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology 32 (2): 108123.

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  • Hasselberg, Ines. 2016. Enduring uncertainty: Deportation, punishment and everyday life. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

  • Karpiak, Kevin. 2016. “The anthropology of the police.” In The SAGE Handbook of Global Policing, ed. Ben Bradford, Beatrice Jauragei, Ian Loader, and Jonny Steinberg, 103121. London: Sage.

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  • Liebling, Alison. 2011. “Being a criminologist: Investigation as a lifestyle and living.” In What is Criminology? eds. Mary Bosworth and Carolyn Hoyle. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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  • Parmar, Alpa. 2018. “Policing belonging: Race and nation in the UK.” In Race, criminal justice and migration control: Enforcing the boundaries of belonging, ed. Mary Bosworth, Alpa. Parmar and Yolanda Vasquez, 108126. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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  • Powell, Rebecca, and Marie Segrave. 2018. “In the absence of sympathy: Serious criminal offenders and the impact of border control measures.” In Criminal justice research in an era of mass mobility, ed. Andriani Fili, Rebecca Powell, and Synnove Jahnsen, 160172. London: Routledge.

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  • Saleh-Hanna, Viviane, ed. 2008. Colonial systems of control: Criminal justice in Nigeria. Ottawa: Ottawa University Press.

  • Sanchez, Gabriella. 2014. Human smuggling and border crossings. London: Routledge.

  • Schneider, Jane, and Peter Schneider 2008. “The anthropology of crime and criminalization.” Annual Review of Anthropology 42: 415432.

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  • Weiner, Annette. 1988. The Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea. New York: Holt, Reinhardt & Winston.


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