Student Spotlight – Jules Soupault

PhD Student Fellow – University of Victoria

About Jules:
Jules Soupault (he/him) left his hometown of Toulouse (France) to pursue his doctorate at the University of Victoria, on W̱SÁNEĆ & Lək̓ʷəŋən territories. He is inspired and influenced by movements of solidarity without borders, anarchist companions, and beloved friends. In his doctoral research, he aims to contribute to abolitionist practices and ideas by “studying up” the (re)production of (b)orders. His dissertation project focuses on state-sponsored violence and the integration of policing across borders in North America and Europe. He joined the BIG team in 2021 and has developed indicators for the Dyad Database to grasp the politics and management of “security” at a global scale.

What is your current research project, and how does it address borders in the 21st century?
My doctoral dissertation is about the integration of cross-border policing. This practice began in the late 1980s in specific places like the US-Canada or the France-United-Kingdom borders (the cases I study). Today, these cooperation mechanisms between police agencies across a border have become the “best practice” and are promoted by international organizations so that they might be the border of the 21st century. My dissertation is also about situating this contemporary evolution in the development of state and police institutions, whose historical functions are establishing and maintaining a settler-colonial and racial capitalist (b)order.

What motivated you to pursue this project?
My motivation comes from all the people around me. My ideas about what I want to do with my dissertation have emerged from a combination of my personal experiences of activism, night-long discussions with brilliant friends and comrades, and influential readings from authors they have recommended, such as Harsha Walia, Mariame Kaba, Étienne Balibar, to only cite three of them. Also, I would not have had the chance and resources to be able to conduct this project without the help and trust of my supervisor, Pr. Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly.

Where do you see your project having the most impact?
From a no-border activist perspective, I think it is essential to understand the transformations of border regimes because they affect everyone’s vision, strategies, and practices. This is also why I chose to conduct research that “study-up” (Nader, 1969), meaning that I will look at the institutions through which borders are produced (rather than studying people who resist them). The violence of borders and policing impacts people in more ways than I can describe, and I hope that knowing how it is enabled contributes to the efforts and success of people who want to dismantle them, regardless of their position.

What has your fellowship with BIG allowed you to do that you might not have done otherwise?

The Border in Globalization program allowed me to meet with incredible students and professors interested in discussing borders who come from different perspectives, interests, methods, cosmologies, places, and horizons. In terms of experience, BIG is also an amazing opportunity to be involved in summer schools, research projects, conferences, and barbeques. I am working on the Dyads database, where I can work on my quantitative skills and research interests while also contributing to creating and collecting data on border issues in the hope of bolstering and facilitating further research.

What are your plans for after your PhD?
Survive.

What is one non-academic book that you think everybody should read and why?
As We exist (Comme nous existons), by Kaoutar Harchi, is, by her description, a “postcolonial autobiography.” It is an incredibly moving, powerful, and intelligent book that I wish I had read before. She combines multiple narrative lenses to tell her story; from the intimacy of the family to her political and critical vision of events happening in 2000’s France, such as the “veil ban,” the death Zyed and Bouna provoked by the police, interweaving these stories and showing how all these experiences have fed her revolutionary politics.

Student Spotlight - Jules Soupault