Violent Borders

Violent Borders:Refugees and the Right to Move

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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

  • Focuses helpfully on an uncomfortable and generally overlooked fact – that in recent years border control regimes have become increasingly and often horrifically militarised in many parts of the world. Physical restraints in the shape of walls and security fences have multiplied; the body count is appallingly high. For Jones, this shows that the institutions of the modern state are essentially violent.

    Rowan WilliamsNew Statesman
  • 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.

    Arun Kundnani, author of The Muslims Are Coming: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror
  • 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.

    Jeremy Harding, author of Border Vigils: Keeping Migrants Out of the Rich World