Resisting the ‘structurally embedded border’ in Australia

A/Prof. Leanne Weber1
1Monash University, Clayton, Australia

In Australia, restricted access to essential services such as education and health care is a feature of federal policies aimed at reserving publicly funded resources for citizens, while also encouraging ‘voluntary departures’ of asylum applicants. In this presentation, I report new research findings about acts of resistance to these policies by individuals and agencies providing health, education and support services for asylum seekers. Situating the analysis within prior theorisation about the ‘structurally embedded border’ reveals that opportunities for resistance are inherent within borders themselves, and arise from their performative and contested nature. Efforts to “fill gaps” in service provision undermine federal policies aimed at attrition; while avoiding incorporation into networks of information exchange thwarts the expansion of the federal surveillance apparatus. While the transformative impact of these efforts appears to be dwarfed by the massive in/exclusionary powers of the federal state, I conclude that these multiple acts of resistance create transversal borders that in small, often temporary, and yet significant, ways begin to redraw the boundaries of inclusion from within.


Leanne Weber is Associate Professor of Criminology, co-Director of the Border Crossing Observatory and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She researches border control and migration policing using criminological and human rights frameworks. Her books include The Routledge International Handbook on Criminology and Human Rights, 2017 (with Elaine Fishwick and Marinella Marmo), Policing Non-Citizens, 2013 (Routledge), Stop and Search: Police Power in Global Context, 2013 (Routledge, with Ben Bowling) and Globalization and Borders: Death at the Global Frontier, 2011 (Palgrave, with Sharon Pickering).



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