Skip to main content

In this paper I offer perspectives on the global politics of asylum, borders and security by paying attention to the maritime lineages of border security, and consider the global prospects for political justice and asylum seeking in the age of Trump’s wall and Europe’s ‘Migrant Crisis’. I re-examine key differences in the framing of asylum seeking during the Indochinese Exodus, from 1975, and the pivotal emergence of a deterrence-led policy in the US Caribbean in 1981. Using Australia as a political laboratory where further developments proceeded from these maritime lineages, I look at the complex relations between boat-borne asylum seeking and the rise of civil aviation as a global middle class norm, and their interactions with the rise of coastal surveillance, the shift toward multiculturalism, and the rise of neoliberalism and skills-based ‘temporary’ migration to Australia’s nascent global cities, Sydney and Melbourne. The contention I present holds that contemporary Australia’s selective openness to the world is predicated on its systemic closure to boat borne asylum seeking, which implies the negation of asylum for a category of person as the offshored condition of multicultural prosperity. Finally, I consider the fully fledged emergence of border security as a two decade political project, one capable of restoring a seemingly threatened national sovereignty yet more fundamentally aligned with global logistics, and evaluate the fate of asylum seeking in the world of secured circulation it is now actively co-producing in Australia’s name.

Peter Chambers has just completed a full-length work that addresses the co-emergence of border security, offshore detention on distant islands, and onshore enclaves in global cities. In the coming year, the implications of this book are being further developed by focusing on the ocean in its immanence, the pervasive use of offshore, and the cultural effects of Australian border security’s stabilising social imaginaries. Over the next two years his work explores the normative implications of border security, offshore, and vulnerable noncitizen life. This seeks concrete ways of thinking about global political justice by regarding our common vulnerability through differential exposure to harm, through citizenship status, access to space, and conflict between modes of transport. Pete is a lecturer in criminology at Deakin University, and his recent current teaching has focused on terrorism, criminological theory, surveillance, global crime, and political justice.

Charges: Waged: $5, Unwaged: $3, Members Free

Back to top