Universiteit Leiden

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Borders and mobility in the focus

From March 14 to 16, 2018 Prof. mr. dr. Maartje van der Woude organized an international seminar and PhD masterclass on the topic of “Transformative Borders and the Politics of Migration in Western Liberal Democracies”. Both events were organized as part of Prof. Van der Woude’s NWO VIDI Grant “Getting to the Core of Crimmigration” and co-sponsored by a project from the LDE Centre for Safety and Security.

Building bridges

Participants to the seminar were selected and invited based on the contribution to the scholarship on bordering in the context of migration control. In so doing, it was ensured that scholars came from a variety of disciplines such as law, sociology, criminology, geography, anthropology, sociology of law, etc. According to Van der Woude, the notion of bordering is not to be understood other than through an interdisciplinary lens. One of the main goals of the seminar was thus to build bridges between the various disciplines and their unique methodological and theoretical approaches.

With a growing number of research groups in Europe involved in the study of borders and bordering, another goal of the seminar was to bring together several groups. Besides the researchers from Leiden and Erasmus University that are part of the two research projects that are (co-)coordinated by Van der Woude, Getting to the Core of Crimmigration, funded by NWO, and Border Security in the EU: Local Perspectives, funded by LDE,  there were researchers from the NWO VICI project Cities of Refuge, Oxfords Border Criminologies Network, the Nordic research group NORDHOST: Nordic Hospitalities in a Context of Migration and Refugee Crisis, the Swiss research group NCCR On the Move. Restricting Immigration: Practices, Experiences and Resistance and the Centre for Border Research in Nijmegen.

Lastly, the seminar aimed to also build bridges between senior and junior scholars. Whereas the senior scholars were presenting their work in progress on the topic of the seminar, PhD students and post docs were actively engaging in the discussions and brainstorming that would follow. The PhD’s and post docs presented their research in a poster presentation format, with senior scholars walking around asking questions.

Over the course of the two days, scholars discussed the transformation of borders as well as the transformative effects of borders on public and private actors, migrants, as well on localities. Looking at different levels of states and organizations as well as a variety of actors, the researchers found common themes emerge from the interdisciplinary research, such as discretion and decision making and the role of the local vs (supra)national. These will be discussed and elaborated further and brought together for a special issue of the international peer reviewed journal “Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict & World Order”.


With so much (inter)national expertise in Leiden, and with so many PhD students from various research groups grappling with similar questions and challenges, the two-day seminar was followed by a one day PhD and postdoc master class “Researching responses to migration”. The masterclass was co-sponsored by with contributions by Dr Alpa Parmar, University of Oxford, Dr Irene Vega, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Prof. Nancy Wonders, Northern Arizona University, participants were able to exchange knowledge, experiences and expertise on the research process and qualitative methods, issues of positionality, ethics and integrity and data collection in various contexts. The lecturers and participants of the master highly appreciated the concept, the interactive nature and the depth of the discussions and expressed the wish to take part in such an event format also next year. The master class strengthened the links between the represented research groups on the level of the junior researchers.