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Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move

A major new exploration of the refugee crisis, focusing on how borders are formed and policed
Forty thousand people died trying to cross international borders in the past decade, with the high-profile deaths along the shores of Europe only accounting for half of the grisly total.

Reece Jones argues that these deaths are not exceptional, but rather the result of state attempts to contain populations and control access to resources and opportunities. “We may live in an era of globalization,” he writes, “but much of the world is increasingly focused on limiting the free movement of people.”

In Violent Borders, Jones crosses the migrant trails of the world, documenting the billions of dollars spent on border security projects and their dire consequences for countless millions. While the poor are restricted by the lottery of birth to slum dwellings in the aftershocks of decolonization, the wealthy travel without constraint, exploiting pools of cheap labor and lax environmental regulations. With the growth of borders and resource enclosures, the deaths of migrants in search of a better life are intimately connected to climate change, environmental degradation, and the growth of global wealth inequality.

Reviews

  • “I'd like an endless supply of Reece Jones’ Violent Borders to hand out to all the people I meet who flirt with an anti-refugee sensibility. This book is the antidote to the world of walls that we live in, an argument for a world of humanity.”
  • “A much-needed counter to a thousand newspaper columns calling on us to secure our borders, Reece Jones’ Violent Borders goes beyond the headlines to look at the deeper causes of the migration crisis. Borders, Jones convincingly argues, are a means of inflicting violence on poor people. This is an engaging and lucid analysis of a much misunderstood issue.”
  • “From early modern land enclosures through Westphalian state formation to the current fortification of the US–Mexico frontier, Reece Jones explains what a boundary is, and how national sovereignty is being reinforced, in an age of capital mobility, by the crackdown on human movement across borders.”
  • “With the building of border walls and the deaths of migrants much in the news, this work is both timely and necessarily provocative.”
  • “In an era of terrorism, global inequality, and rising political tension over migration, Jones argues that tight border controls make the world worse, not better.”
  • “Reece Jones, a professor of Geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, believes that borders are essentially tools of violence used to constrict and sometimes entirely stop flows of humanity. And Jones has the facts to back up this radical assertion...This book is a valuable antidote to the xenophobia sweeping the privileged nations of the Northern Hemisphere.”
  • Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move goes beyond most considerations of refugee history to consider how new borders are formed and policed, and how state attempts to contain and control populations and allocate resources have resulted in many limits to peoples' movements around the world…A powerful survey that should be a 'must' for any social issues collection.”
  • Violent Borders puts questions of movement and intrastate inequality in a historical perspective that once glimpsed cannot be unseen. It firmly, and convincingly, maintains that borders are nothing more than state tools for maintaining control of resources and populations, the beneficiaries of which are often the rich while those who suffer its intrinsically violent wrath are the poor who seek safety within its walls…An excellent read.”

Blog

  • I Was Kicked Out of Federal Immigration Court — Because I'm a Journalist

    This story first appeared — on Friday, February 19 — in East Bay Express 



    I got kicked out of a public, federal immigration court hearing yesterday because I’m a newspaper reporter. And it wasn't the judge who wanted me to leave. It was the Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorney. Here's what happened.

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  • One Day Without Us—A Migrant Solidarity Reading List

    Today, the petition to rescind President Trump’s state visit to Britain signed by 1.8 million people will be debated in Parliament. Stop Trump demonstrations are planned for this evening across the country and are expected to draw more than 10,000 people to stand together in solidarity with migrants and against racism and Islamophobia.

    Trump’s racist, Islamophobic, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant politics are the same driving forces as those behind the Brexit vote to leave the EU. In the context of the rise of reactionary and xenophobic politics worldwide, the Stop Trump programme of opposition is a joint effort with the One Day Without Us movement, staging its first day of action today. Tens of thousands of migrants and their supporters are staging a walkout from workplaces and places of education to celebrate the contribution migrant workers make to British society. In particular, the action aims to highlight their importance to the British economy: withdrawing their labour for a day would cost the UK £328m – 4% of the country’s GDP.

    The British government is not just complicit with Trump's agenda: Theresa May has been a trailblazer in ramping up anti-migrant measures for years before her ascent to the premiership in her role as Home Secretary when she notoriously brought in 'go home' vans. While it debates the terms of Brexit, the government continues to run a brutal and inhumane detention system; demonise and deport migrants; refuse refugees, and extend the border regime deeper into British society, into our hospitals, schools and workplaces.

    Verso presents a reading list of books that challenge and expose right-wing narratives about migrant workers and refugees by contextualising crises rooted in the violence of capitalism, legacies of colonialism and war waged by the West. This selection includes books that provide us with histories of resistance from which we can draw strength and inspiration for the fightback ahead.

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  • Save Those Who Weep

    Sophie Wahnich argues we need to expand the notion of civil war to include the whole set of social and political practices that destroy the social bond. Since market relations destroy sociability, we must unfailingly turn our attention to those who are falling through the cracks. First published in Libération. Translated by David Broder.  



    Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution in Alphaville (1965). 

    In Alphaville — imagined by Jean-Luc Godard in 1965 — the city’s all-powerful master Professor von Braun has abolished human feelings. A computer, Alpha 60, governs the whole city. The secret agent Lemmy Caution is charged with "destroying Alpha 60...and saving those who weep."

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