An old man trapped behind a fence

Borderless worlds – for whom?

Ethics, moralities and (in)justice in migration and tourism
26 January, 2016

Conference organised by RELATE, the Academy of Finland Centre for Excellence, University of Oulu

When: September 7-8, 2016

The notion of a borderless world came to prominence especially after the collapse of socialist Eastern Europe. The conceptualisation of a borderless world sought to deal with the increasingly globalised networks of flows of capital and information. “Borderless world” is now a recurrent term in the titles of numerous academic and non-academic texts, but the optimism associated originally with this idea has vanished during the last 25 years or so when more nuanced views of borders have come to dominate both academic debates and social and political life. While economic flows and some factions (e.g. business people, academics and wealthy tourists) cross borders quite freely, not all travellers are welcome; a number of states around the world actively construct and strengthen borders and build even concrete walls to prevent and control certain forms of mobilities (terrorists, illicit smuggling, and undesirable migrants). The figure of the migrant or refugee increasingly dominates discussion on borders. Borders and bordering practices are inscribed onto the bodies of mobile people, allowing some to cross freely, while obstructing and/or preventing others. These contradictory tendencies have led to a situation where both researchers and activists have advocated for more open borders or even no borders.

This conference, organised by the RELATE Centre of Excellence/Academy of Finland & University of Oulu, will problematise these tendencies and claims. Through keynote talks and panels involving a non-conventional set of border experts – leading border and migration scholars, politicians, journalists, activists (no borders, free mobility, sans papier), activist researchers and migrants themselves – the aim is to expose the complexity of the terrain and to pay much-needed attention to the ethics, moralities and (in)justices in border struggles, migration and tourism mobilities. The power of territorial borders, bordering and identities have become increasingly complex, multi-scalar and relational. Conference speakers and attendees will work towards making sense of this complexity. Instead of taking territorial or relational views as normative givens, we hope to consider how the simultaneous ‘geographies’ of bounded and open, networked spaces are realised in the contemporary world.

Keynote speakers:

Harald Bauder

Professor Bauder is the inaugural Academic Director of the Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement (RCIS). His research interests are in immigration and settlement geographies, critical geography and geographic practice. Bauder has written extensively about open-borders and no-border concepts, and has a forthcoming book on this topic. His past research includes SSHRC-funded projects on immigration policies and debates in Canada and Germany, privileged migrant labour, as well as emerging geographies of citizenship, borders and mobility. He is a former editor of ACME.

Raoul Bianchi

Dr. Raoul Bianchi is a Reader in International Tourism and Development in the School of Business and Law at University of East London. He has developed and carried out a range of research projects into tourism development, sustainable tourism planning and the cultural politics of heritage. His research interests include globalization and the international political economy of tourism, including recently published book with Marcus Stephenson: Tourism and Citizenship: Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities in the Global Order.

Alison Mountz

Dr. Alison Mountz is Professor of Geography and Canada Research Chair in Global Migration. She is affiliated with the International Migration Research Centre and cross-appointed between the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Mountz’s work explores the tension between the decisions, displacements, and desires that drive human migration and the policies and practices designed to manage migration. Her current research examines border enforcement, asylum, and detention on islands. She is the 2015-2016 William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard University.

Noel Salazar

Dr. Noel Salazar is a Research Professor at the University of Leuven, Belgium. His research interests include anthropologies of mobility and travel, the local-to-global nexus, discourses and imaginaries of Otherness, heritage, cultural brokering and cosmopolitanism. He is the author of Envisioning Eden: Mobilising Imaginaries in Tourism and Beyond (2010, Oxford: Berghahn) and co-editor of Regimes of Mobility: Imaginaries and Relationalities of Power (2014, New York: Routledge) and Tourism Imaginaries: Anthropological Approaches (2014, Oxford: Berghahn). He has founded CuMoRe (Cultural Mobilities Research) and the EASA Anthropology and Mobility Network.

Themes of sessions

We welcome abstracts related to theoretical and/or empirical aspects of bordering practices, border struggles, especially problematising mobilities, ethics, morals and (in)justice. Abstracts may focus on (but are not limited to) the following themes:

  • Open borders and No borders –movement(s)/activism
  • Exclusiveness of border control and control technologies
  • Networks, borders and the allure of territory
  • Borders, spatial socialization and subjectification
  • Border fortification, militarization and technology
  • Law/legal geographies and border/territory making
  • Border as a metonym for crime/criminalization of border crossing
  • Migration, paperless people, ‘illegality’ and rights
  • Tourism mobilities and border crossings
  • Mobilities, ethics, morals and (in)justice
  • Health/diseases/epidemics, border control and biopolitics/biosecurity
  • Multilocated and multilayered borders
  • Human security, transnationalization, and citizenship
  • International volunteering as a site of citizenship formation
  • Spatialities of migration control
  • Borders and ecopolitics
  • Art, aesthetics, border struggles
  • Religion and borders/religion as a border

In addition to the keynotes and (parallel) sessions, panel with various speakers (politicians, journalists, scientists, activists, etc.) will be organized.

Practical information

Abstracts and papers

Please send your abstracts of around 250-300 words before 28th February to Kaj Zimmerbauer ( Those whose abstracts are accepted will be notified by the end of March 2016. Abstracts should be in MS Word compatible form. Please put your name, affiliation and e-mail address on top of the abstract.

It is the intention of the organizers that a selection of presentations will be published in a book and/or special issue(s). The recommended length of a book/special issue article is approximately 6000-7000 words.

The conference fee is 120 euros.

The conference will take place in the University of Oulu main campus area (Linnanmaa), which is locetd approximately 6 km north of the city center. You can reach the university by taking any of the following buses from the city centre: 1 (Jylkynkangas), 2 (Ritaharju), 3 (Ritaharju), or 8 (teknologiakylä). We recommend to exit the bus at stop: Yliopisto P. Bus number 8 runs between Oulu Airport and University (then continues to Teknologiakylä). Route information is also available on the website:

For more information on the University of Oulu, please see:

For the accommodation in Oulu, see:

For additional conference information, please contact Professor Anssi Paasi (, Professor Jarkko Saarinen ( or coordinator Kaj Zimmerbauer (

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