#28 & #29 BIG Podcast – Hadrian’s Wall, Frontiers of the Roman Empire and Border Studies (Part One)

featuring archeologist David J. Breeze, British archaeologist and scholar of Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine’s Wall, and the Roman army

The history of the Roman Empire is intertwined with the control of the entire Mediterranean Sea and reached at its peak 5 million km² for 60 million inhabitants. The empire was heterogeneous and expanded through conquests and was maintained through a network of frontiers and a system of friendly, allies or “client” states (reges amicique populi Romani). Due to rebellions from some tribes as the Brigantes, and after having visited the Danube and Rhine frontiers, the Roman Emperor Hadrian (reigned 117–138) came to Britannia in July 122 BC. By ordering the construction of the Wall (between 122 – and maybe before according to certain authors – and 127 AD), Hadrian put an end to the territorial expansion of the Roman Empire. In short, Hadrian adopted a policy of protecting frontiers without expansion.

What functions did the borders of the Roman Empire have? What functions did Hadrian’s Wall have? Can the frontiers of the Roman Empire be considered strict separations between the civilized (Roman) world and the world of the barbarians (“qui barbaros Romanosque Divideret”)? How is archeology an interesting and relevant discipline for Border Studies? We will discuss all this and get answers with archeologist David J. Breeze.

Listen to #28 (Part One): Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube.

Listen to #29 (Part Two): Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube.

David J. Breeze is an archaeologist, teacher, and scholar of Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine Wall, and the Roman army. He has been Chair of the International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies and President of several archaeological societies in the UK. He was Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Scotland from 1989 to 2005, and subsequently led the team which successfully nominated the Antonine Wall as a World Heritage Site in 2008. David has excavated on both Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall and written several books on these frontiers, on frontiers elsewhere in the Roman Empire and on the Roman army.

#28 & #29 BIG Podcast – Hadrian’s Wall, Frontiers of the Roman Empire and Border Studies (Part One)

BIG Talk – It’s more than just the zipcode: It’s about how one’s access to reproductive services is impacted by various levels of border walls

with Dr. Andréanne Bissonnette (Postdoctoral Fellow, Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University) | Victoria, BC & Zoom | September 26, 2023

In Person: CFGS C168 (Sedgewick building, University of Victoria) or Zoom. The meeting will take place from 12:00PM to 1:30PM PST. Register in advance for this meeting here. Registration is free but required.

Along the US-Mexico border, how one perceives their access to reproductive health services is often impacted by the various levels of border walls. Women’s position along the border will impact the level of controls implemented by states, and in turn the availability of services. However, identity markers such as immigration status and ethnicity intersect with geographical positioning to impact perceptions and experiences of access to reproductive care. This presentation offers an analysis of Latinas’ perceptions and experiences of access to reproductive health services in two border states (California and Texas). Based on extensive fieldwork (observation, survey and interviews), it demonstrates how immigration status and ethnicity influences how public health policies are lived along the border.

Dr. Andréanne Bissonnette is a postdoctoral fellow at the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University, where she is part of the binational research team focused on the equity of Canada – US border measures during the pandemic. Her research focuses on reproductive health access in the United States, with a focus on the intersections of ethnicity, immigration status, and geographical position. Born along the US-Canada border, her research has brought her to the US-Mexico border several times through the years, including for a research fellowship at the University of Texas at El Paso (2019). She has published her work on reproductive healthcare and health and borders in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Quebec in Montreal.

BIG Talk – It's more than just the zipcode: It’s about how one’s access to reproductive services is impacted by various levels of border walls

Bringing EU Human Centered Design to BC

This three year project aims to engage European and North American researchers with BC public sector organization policy makers and practitioners to build and sustain complaint system capacity in local government public sector organizations in B.C. It builds on a previous set of workshops which were co-funded by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union through the Jean Monnet Chair in Innovative Governance (2018, Co-constructing Justice: Citizen-centered design for public service complaint systems).

Complaint System Design is about access to justice, and involves the creation of processes and systems to deal with repeated or systemic disputes: an effective complaint system inhabits a constitutionally significant space within public service organizations, making the justice journey more manageable and accessible for users. Therefore, the aim of this grant is to build on the EU advancements in human-centered, public sector complaint systems and harness EU knowledge to apply to public sector organizations in British Columbia. In this project we will study how to adapt and implement EU approaches to complaint system design, and apply these learnings to local governments in British Columbia, Canada.


  • Research: Researchers will engage and supervise graduate students to conduct pre-post evaluations of complaint system capacity building success in BC local government public sector organizations
  • Outreach: 1) Training the Trainers Workshop, 2) two orientation workshops with public sector administrators and elected officials, and 3) a pilot training for 10 BC local governments. As well we will host a major international conference in Canada (Year 2)
  • Teaching: an Open Online Course on complaint system design in public sector organizations


  • 4 training workshops
  • 1 international conference
  • 1 open online course platform: DR509
  • 20 trained practitioners in complaints system design

UVic Team:

Tara Ney

Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly


Chris Gill, University of Glasgow

Jane Williams, Queen Margaret’s University,

Sabine Junginger, University of Lucerne

Chris Gill, BC Office of the Ombudsperson

Local Government Management Association

Union of British Columbia Municipalities

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Robert Lapper, School of Law, University of Victoria

2023 World Conference of the Association for Borderlands Studies

Eilat Campus of Ben-Gurion University, Israel | February 13-18, 2023

BIG team members and fellows were some of the many attending ABS’ Borders, Edges and Interfaces: Pluralities and Scales conference, hosted February 13th-18th, 2023 at the Eilat Campus of Ben-Gurion University at the tri-border towns of Eilat (Israel), Aqaba (Jordan) and Taba (Egypt).

The study of borders has experienced significant growth during the past thirty years . Focussing on the borderless world theories of the late 80’s and early 90’s, scholars from across the disciplinary boundaries have come together with new border narratives, ranging from the level of the state to the scale of local borders, from the physical borders to the perceived, and with a recent focus on the reconstruction of borders in a post 9/11 world, and the way in which borders are represented through a variety of images, ranging from film, literature, caricatures and cartography.

The conference was be held at the Elat Campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in the south of Israel. The town of Elat is located at the meeting of three borders – Egypt (Taba), Jordan (Aqaba) and Israel (Elat) – and just a few kilometers north of the border between Jordan and Saudi Arabia.  Israel-Palestine is located at the interface of borders, continents and cultures, and sessions will be devoted to the sensitive Geopolitics of this region, at local and national scales. Dependent on the political conditions at the time, it is the intention of the conference organizers to arrange a tri-border field trip. Following the conference, there was a choice of two optional field trips to other critical border regions – Israel’s northern borders with Lebanon and Syria; and the borders and geopolitics of the West Bank and the Jerusalem region.

The conference organizers are hoping that by February 2023 it will be possible to hold a conference with physical participation, but will also be making contingency plans for a virtual conference if necessary. Even, as expected, a return to physical participation, there will be the possibility of some hybrid sessions, so that many scholars, and particularly students who will be unable to make the journey, will be able to participate

In addition to individual abstracts, the organizers welcome proposals for thematic sessions on any topic relating to border studies across the multi-disciplinary perspectives, across the geographic scales, and across global cultural and geographical locations.

Full list of keynote speakers.

Find more information on ABS’ site here.

2023 World Conference of the Association for Borderlands Studies

Graduate Student Fellow (PhD)

Jules Soupault

Borders in Globalization | 21st Century Borders

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. 

Jules Soupault

Student Spotlight – Roberto Vila-Lage

Visiting Graduate Student (PhD) – University of Victoria

About Roberto:

Roberto Vila-Lage (he/him) is a PhD candidate in Geography at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain). His research focuses on the study of cooperation across external and internal Spanish borders, with special emphasis on natural protected areas. His thesis discusses the impact of governance and management of biosphere reserves and national parks on internal borderlands (specifically, between autonomous communities in Spain).

Prior to pursuing his doctoral studies, he received a MA in Spatial Planning, Management & Development and a BA in Geography and Spatial Planning from the University of Santiago de Compostela, and a BA in Economics from the University of A Coruña. Roberto is member of Territorial Analysis (ANTE) Research Group and participates in the project HIGHLANDS.3. He joined the BIG team as a visiting graduate student in the fall of 2022.

What is your current research project, and how does it address borders in the 21st century?

I am currently working on my PhD thesis. My research focuses on analyzing the socio-spatial effects produced by the presence of intra-state borders in relation to protected natural areas. Specifically, I am studying biosphere reserves and national parks located just along the boundaries between autonomous communities (i.e. devolved “regions”) in Spain. The objective is to apply the theoretical framework of transboundary conservation, usually conceived around international borders, to internal boundaries and administrative limits. From the methodological point of view, I mainly use qualitative research techniques, such as semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders to grasp their perceptions in regard to boundaries, protected areas and cross-border cooperation.

What motivated you to pursue this project?

The main motivation has been my supervisors: Valerià Paül and Juan M. Trillo-Santamaría. After many years researching on the Galician-Portuguese border, they identified the need to study internal borders between autonomous communities in Spain. Thanks to their strong support, and the funding from the Ministry of Universities, I was able to initiate this project.

Where do you see your project having the most impact?

In general terms, I would like it to help to reflect on the importance of and effects produced by intra-state borders in decentralized countries, as is the case in Spain. More specifically, although I am not very optimistic about it, I would like it to promote effective cooperation and coordination mechanisms to facilitate the management of cross-border protected natural areas in Spain.

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

There is no doubt that the highlight has been meeting the excellent team of the BiG and the CFGS of the University of Victoria. It is an exceptional environment for carrying out research. My stay also allowed me to do field work on the border between British Columbia and Alberta and to enjoy of the stunning landscapes of the Rocky Mountains.

What are your plans for after your PhD?

I do not really know how many times a day I ask myself this question… Honestly, after my PhD, I would like to have the opportunity to develop a postdoctoral project linked to borders studies that allows me to continue developing my research career.

What is one non-academic book that you think everybody should read and why?

Recently I read an interesting book that I have recommended to a few friends. Its title, taken from a painting by Paul Klee, is The Twittering Machine. I especially like this book because its author, Richard Seymour, analyzes and reflects in an excellent way on the toxic relationship we have with social networks and the social industry.

Student Spotlight - Roberto Vila-Lage

Graduate Student Fellow (MACD)

Nadine Graham

BIG | Jean Monnet Human-to-Military Security Database Project – University of Victoria

Nadine Graham joined the BIG team in June 2022 as a Graduate Student Fellow.  She is currently completing a Master of Arts in Community Development in the Public Administration Department at UVic and focuses on the analysis of Immigration and Settlement related policy, non-profit settlement services as well as migration and border studies. She previously completed a Master’s in Immigration Management (Now called Migration Studies) at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. She has 5 years of experience working with newcomers in the settlement field, in both language and employment. Nadine has had two book reviews published about gender inequality in China and cyber crimes against women in India in the Asian Journal of Women’s Studies.

Nadine Graham

Graduate Student Fellow (PhD)

Shoukia van Beek

Borders in Globalization | Jean Monnet Human-to-Military Security Database Project

Shoukia van Beek (she/her) is a settler-scholar and graduate student at the University of Victoria, on W̱SÁNEĆ & Lək̓ʷəŋən territories. Shoukia was named after her late grandmother, a Frisian-Dutch immigrant, whose ferocity, compassion, and caring ways shaped Shoukia’s sense of self and community. Her lessons and love continue to inform Shoukia’s interests, worldview, and ultimately, her work. Shoukia’s research examines how borders, and their associated practices, function as a mechanism of settler-colonialism. Her work is rooted in, and takes place at the intersection of, literatures and theories of political ecology, border studies, and Indigenous sovereignty¾actively centring an anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, and abolitionist legal-geographic analysis and epistemological commitment.

Shoukia joins the BIG team as a PhD Fellow and will be working with Jeff and Emmanuel on questions of Indigenous nationhood as well as with the BIG and JMN database teams!

Shoukia van Beek

Database Coordinator | Senior Research Assistant

Maria Finnsdottir

Jean Monnet Human-to-Military Security Database Project – University of Victoria

Maria Finnsdottir is a Senior Research Assistant and she leads our team of research assistants collecting indicators for both the BIG and Jean Monnet database projects.

Maria is PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Toronto. Prior to pursuing her doctoral studies, she received her BA in Sociology from UVic in 2016, and her MA in Sociology from U of T in 2018. Her research focuses broadly on gender and radical right politics. For her doctoral research, she is examining how gendered inequality operates within radical right political parties, both at the level of supporters and of politicians. This work aims to understand the particular gendered drivers of radical right support, and the place of women in racist and exclusionary politics.

Maria Finnsdottir

BIG Fellowships

Mentorship and training are core parts of our research program. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral scholars are engaged in all aspects of our research activities and will be individually mentored by an academic partner within our network. BIG Fellows will participate monthly student seminars designed to foster team building and provide training in collaborative research. Additionally, Fellows will have access to an annual open-access introductory course that will develop a common theoretical and transdisciplinary methodological foundation on borders and border studies. Finally, Fellows will have the opportunity to engage in a number of knowledge mobilization activities ranging from traditional publications to podcast participation to writing blogs and using social media. Each Fellow will have their own project that fits within the overall BIG research agenda and will be required to submit a final report at the end of their fellowship.

Types of Fellowships

Undergraduate Fellows

Undergraduate students will work directly with their supervisors, as well as within the larger fellowship cohort. Typically, undergraduate fellows will be asked to work on data collection and data entry, assist with data analysis and literature reviews, participate in outreach activities, and collaborate on the preparation of publications.

Masters Fellows

Masters students will work directly with their supervisors, as well as within the larger fellowship cohort. They may be asked to work independently on data collection, data collection, data analysis, and literature reviews. In addition to what is asked of undergrad fellows, masters fellows may participate in presentations, networking activities, and partner collaborations.

Doctoral Fellows

Doctoral students will work directly with their supervisors and will take a mentorship role within the larger fellowship cohort. They will be asked to participate in all aspects of the research program and may be asked to lead a team of student researcher. In addition to their involvement in the knowledge mobilization aspects of the research agenda, doctoral fellows will also participate in aspects of project design and report writing/edited.

Post-Doc Fellows

Post-Doc Fellows will work directly with their supervisors and will take a mentorship role within the larger fellowship cohort. They will be asked to take ownership of a core project within the BIG network and/or be required to produce a major publication. All post-doc fellowships are specifically designed to the current needs of the project and our capacities to mentor. Please see the opportunities page for current postings.