Border control and technologies of exclusion

Associate Professor Leanne Weber1, Dr Claire Loughnan2, Ms Rebecca Powell1, Professor Mary Bosworth3

1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia,

2Melbourne University, Melbourne, Australia,

3Monash and Oxford University, Oxford, UK

Manus Prison theory and the production of hostility and neglect: the new tools of the Kyriarchos

Presenters: Claire Loughnan, University of Melbourne

The collaboration between Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian, and Boochani’s book No Friend but the Mountains, have produced insights into the carceral expansionism of the modern state and its roots in colonial/imperial histories, described elsewhere by Boochani as ‘Manus Prison Theory.’ Writing from within Manus Island Prison, Boochani’s analysis of the oppression characterising the detention of refugees has wider implications however. Ironically, the border no longer functions centrally over territorial limits, but over bodies (Mountz 2011) in which responsibility for the decision by refugees, for example, to stay or remain, is now imposed on them through the creation of conditions which are so difficult that staying in a signatory state becomes unsufferable (Weber and Pickering 2014, Johansen, 2013). This oppression is achieved through multiple techniques utilised by the state, described by Boochani as comprising a ‘Kyriarchal’ system (Schussler Fiorenza, 2001). While most powerfully illustrated in institutions of confinement, this system of control and oppression characterises contemporary life both inside and outside these confined spaces (Tofighian, 2018). It is accompanied by techniques such as intentional neglect, the facilitation of hostilities between and amongst communities and the wearing down of resistance through the tangled web of bureaucratic processes. This suggests that the Kyriarchal system derives power from it’s capacity for neglect, while disavowing responsibility for the effects of that neglect. In this paper I explore the implications of ‘Manus Prison Theory’ and Boochani’s description of the Kyriarchal system, for contemporary political and social life under new manifestations of state power and trace the diverse ways in which this power is not only manifested at the border but exercised over citizens living and dying within the border. I argue that this is illustrative of a shift in how we understand the exercise of biopower.

Shifting the balance between crimmigration and human rights protections in Australia’s criminal deportation policy 1958-2018

Presenters: Rebecca Powell, The Border Crossing Observatory, Monash University

Australia’s criminal deportation policy was included in the Migration Act from when it was enacted in 1958. Ever present within the policy has been a tension between human rights and considerations of removal of convicted non-citizens on the basis of their criminal offending and non-citizenship status in the interest of protecting community safety (a crimmigration response). This policy has evolved over time and reflects changing dynamics within this tension towards a more recent emergence of a crimmigration charged ‘deportation machine’ (Comrie cited in Nicholls 2007:11). I have analysed these policy developments across four distinct policy waves, each characterised by significant policy developments in relation to crimmigration. Notably a considerable expansion of executive power occurred during waves 3 and 4, whereas the policy incorporated increasing protections for non-citizen longer term residents who may get caught up in the criminal justice system during waves 1 and 2. This paper reveals the moments, context and impacts of this changing balance between crimmigration and human rights for those subject to Australia’s criminal deportation.

Crime, pre-crime and sub-crime: Deportation of “risky” non-citizens from Australia as “enemy crimmigration”

Presenters: Leanne Weber, Monash University & Rebecca Powell, The Border Crossing Observatory, Monash University

The situation of non-citizens in many countries is becoming ever more precarious. Insecure immigration status opens up for governments unique avenues for exclusionary risk reduction measures that are not available in relation to citizens. Moreover, because of their deportability and lack of political power, it may be even more difficult for non-citizens to claim human rights protections than it is for citizens. In this chapter we use the “enemy penology” thesis expounded by German legal theorist Günther Jakobs to discuss two groups of non-citizens who have been ongoing targets for risk reduction measures in Australia. We analyse the “crimmigration” policies that construct them as “social enemies” and increasingly lead to their expulsion, sometimes in the absence of either immigration violations or criminal convictions. We argue that the ramping up of risk-based and pre-emptive measures against these groups has implications beyond the potential violation of their individual human rights. The rise of executive power, adoption of pre-crime and sub-crime models at the nexus of immigration and crime control, and lack of regard for rehabilitation objectives and human rights protection, all signal the broadening of the securitisation agenda beyond counter-terrorism, and progression along a dangerously undemocratic path. We conclude that the sustained focus on the pre-emption of risk, combined with the rise of nationalist sentiments, create conditions conducive to the development of a “preventive state” that, while as-yet not fully realised, represents a much greater threat to Australian democracy than the presence of these groups.


Leanne Weber is Associate Professor of Criminology, 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.

Claire Loughnan is an Early Career Researcher, and Teaching Fellow in Criminology, at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne. Her doctoral research examined the policies, laws and practices of immigration detention in the Australian setting from an institutional perspective.

Rebecca Powell is the Managing-Director of the Border Crossing Observatory and Research Manager of the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre. She is currently completing a PhD titled ‘Balancing risk and human rights in the deportation of convicted non-citizens from Australia to New Zealand’.

Recent Comments
    Recent Comments