New book ponders Borders, Mobility and Belonging in the Era of Brexit and Trump

Questions of migration and citizenship are at the heart of global political debate with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump having ripple effects around the world. These questions form the central theme of a fascinating new book, Borders, Mobility and Belonging in the Era of Brexit and Trump, which has been co-authored by experts in geography.

The book provides new insights into the politics of migration and citizenship in the UK and the US, and challenges the increasingly prevalent view of migration and migrants as threats and of formal citizenship as a necessary marker of belonging.

Instead the authors (Professor of Geography at Maynooth University, Mary Gilmartin; Professor of Geography at York University, Canada, Patricia Burke Wood; and Assistant Professor in Geography at Trinity College Dublin, Cian O’Callaghan) offer an analysis of migration and citizenship in practice, as a counterpoint to simplistic discourses.

Professor O’Callaghan said:

Our book uses cutting-edge academic work on migration and citizenship to address three themes central to current debates – borders and walls, mobility and travel, and belonging. Through this analysis a clearer picture of the roots of these politics emerges as well as of the consequences for mobility, political participation and belonging in the 21st century.

In contrast to much commentary and analysis that details the political minutia of unfolding events, we seek to position the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as the outcome of longer-term antecedents. We therefore use a geographical frame of analysis to put the three central themes under scrutiny.

Understanding current policies and practices in the US and UK regarding migration and citizenship, the book argues, is a window into larger ideas about rights to belong and inhabit, and how individual lives become entangled wider political processes. The early 21st century has witnessed a growing politicisation of migration and citizenship, issues such as border security have been prominent features of political parties election manifestos, and the meanings and practices of belonging have been affected by the era of globalisation.

Because the US and UK are major political and economic powers, these seismic events represent a trend towards isolationism, protectionism, exclusionary nationalism and possibly fascism. But while acknowledging the culture shock of these events, the book takes a wider view by showing the important antecedents to the current moment in the always illusory promise of a borderless world and the unequal ways that rights to move and to belong have been provisioned.

The book focuses on case studies including the land borders between Ireland and Northern Ireland and between the US and Mexico, Trump’s travel ban, and how Irish migrants have moved from “bad” to “acceptable” migrants in the UK. In doing so it aims to shed light on the multifaceted complexities and inequalities that underpin the geography, politics and everyday experience of mobility and belonging and how these are affected by new performances of bordering.

Professor O’Callaghan added:

Ultimately, the book offers a more hopeful perspective on the current moment by emphasising how reconfigurations of belonging, allegiance and citizenship that are taking place on the ground challenge transformations at the global and national level.

Borders, Mobility and Belonging in the Era of Brexit and Trump (ISBN: 978-1447347279) is published by Policy Press, an imprint of Bristol University Press. It retails for €36 (£32) for hardback and €8 (£7.19) for e-book. For more details see here.

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