21st Century Borders: Emergent Challenges Within & Among States

Program Overview

The 21st Century Borders grant is a seven-year SSHRC Partnership Grant. The research program builds off the work of the previous Borders in Globalization SSHRC Partnership Grant (2013-2020) which sought to understand the changing nature of borders through six thematic areas in order to document how state-centred and territorially-fixated research limits our understanding of borders. 21st Century Borders builds off the work done in the first grant with the goal of exploring and advancing the required epistemological shift from a state- centric and territorial logic to nodal and mobile logics that focus on both the internal and external forces that challenge the territorial integrity of states. While the first grant revealed the limitations of state-centred and territorially bound understanding of borders, this grant seeks to understand how we, as academics and policymakers, can move beyond that model.

We do this by focusing on three interrelated themes:

  • Pillar 1: Looking inside of states at how Indigenous awareness and resurgences, along with increasingly prevalent politics of nationhood and nationalism, affect, fragment, and re-draft intergovernmental relations.
  • Pillar 2: Examining the relationship between bordering processes and states’ territoriality, with particular attention paid to examining trade flows and human mobility – both within a states’ international boundaries and across international and transnational legal and regulatory regimes.
  • Comparing how the politics in both the above-mentioned cases affect the geopolitics of borders across global regimes.

Program Structure

The grant itself is comprised of two parallel research pillars. Pillar one, led by Jeff Corntassel, and pillar two, led by Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly. While these two pillars work parallel to each other within the grant, the conceptual knowledge base and program understandings will flow between the two pillars and through into country specific case-studies. The two vertical pillars are cross-sectioned by two overarching themes: ecology and security. These themes will address issues of both ecology and security from within the contexts of the two primary pillars. Additionally, partners in the grant may choose to use their expertise to focus on country-specific case studies.

Pillar 1

Nationhood & Nationalism

Pillar one explores how claims of nationhood and nationalism exist in the Indigenous and regionalist experiences in borderlands. There is a growing body of literature that examines Indigenous nationhood claims and another, separate, body literature that looks at regionalist and nationalist claims in Europe. The goal of this pillar is to bridge the gap between these two literatures and explore how claims of nationhood and nationalist claims are similar, how they are different, and how they factor into claims of Indigenous self-determination. Through the work done here, this project examines ways that Indigenous nations, communities, and peoples challenge the territoriality of states and other patriarchal institutions in order to generate new understandings of how Indigenous relationships develop and persist beyond boundaries. By interrogating terms such as nationhood, international, self-determination, and borders, this project seeks to advance a deeper understanding of how these terms and relationships are viewed from diverse Indigenous perspectives.

Pillar 2

Territory & Connectivity

While pillar one deals with issues of territory, pillar two deals with issues of human mobility and trade flows by identifying and examining the instruments and infrastructures of connectivity. This includes structures, regulations, and functions of borders. Research occurring in this pillar may focus on issues such as pre-border clearance mechanisms, the externalization of borders, state-to-state security agreements, integrated border management regimes, strategies for preserving life in cross-border regions during crises. (List is not exhaustive and new projects will be reviewed by the academic and international advisory boards annually).

Partnership Composition

21st Century Borders is funded by a seven-year Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Grant. In addition to funding from SSHRC, our academic partners contribute matching funding and our non-academic partners provide cash and in-kind support for research and knowledge mobilization activities. This project is directed by Dr. Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly at the University of Victoria (Victoria, Canada) and co-lead by Dr. Jeffrey Corntassel (University of Victoria). The academic partnership consists of eight Canadian university partners: Carleton University, École Nationale d’Administration Publique, Royal Military College of Canada, Trent University, Université du Québec à Montréal, Laval, Flemming College, and the University of Victoria; and six international university partners: Radboud University (The Netherlands), Université de Grenoble (France), University of Southern Denmark, South Asia University (India); Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), and Western Washington University.

Our policy partners include: the Canada Border Services Agency, the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (USA/Canada), the Association of European Border Regions (Europe), the World Customs Organization (Brussels), Transfrontier Euro-Institut Network – TIEN (Europe), Mission Opérationnelle Transfrontalière – M.O.T (France).

Research Affiliates

The 21st Century Borders research partnerships includes a number of scholars from around the world working with us on a variety of different projects. This list is updated regularly as we add new projects and expand the partnership.

Aileen Espiritu (UiT The Arctic University of Norway); Alan Bersin (Harvard University); Alex Buhk (Victoria University of Wellington); Amael Cattaruzza (Institut Français de Géopolitique); Budd Hall (University of Victoria); Can Mutlu (Acadia University); Daniel Meier (PACTE); Eve Tuck (University of Toronto); Evert Lindquist (University of Victoria); Fabienne Leloup (UCLouvain); Francisco Lara-Valencia (Arizona State University); Frédérique Berrod (Université de Strasbourg); Glen Coulthard (University of British Columbia); Guadalupe Correo Cabrera (George Mason University); Heidi Stark (University of Victoria); Irasema Coronado (Arizona State University); Isabel Altamirano-Jiménez (University of Alberta); Jamie Ferrill (Charles Stuart University); Katy Hayward (Queen’s University Belfast); Michelle Daigle (University of British Columbia); Mirza Zulfiqur Rahman (Institute of Chinese Studies – Delhi); Naomi Chi (Hakkaido University); Said Saddiki (Université Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah); Simon Dalby (Wilfrid Laurier University); Tamara Krawchenko (University of Victoria); Whitney Lackenbauer (University of Waterloo).

Funding Partners