Call for Contributions for the Border Abolition Conference

Sara Riva's picture
March 1, 2021 to April 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Borderlands, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Race / Ethnic Studies, Social Sciences

Border Abolition 2021 will be a two-day online conference aimed at connecting organising, campaigning, activist research and academic work around border violence, incarceration, abolitionism, racism and other interlocking forms of racialisation. We hope to bring together people struggling against borders in all their forms, from immigration detention, prison and militarised border sites, to the solidarity practices that resist expanding systems of everyday bordering. We see this work as also envisioning the creation of systems of care, safety and support that many of our communities lack. In a current moment in which borders and punitive violence seem to be growing and entrenching, it is more important than ever to formulate an abolitionism that looks at migration not as a stand-alone field but, rather, in connection with heterogeneous struggles against racialising bordering mechanisms, drawing connections between different forms of containment, detention and exploitation that are often invisibilized or discussed separately. We situate ourselves within a growing network of abolitionist organising that seeks to end the harms done by policing, punishment, incarceration, neoliberal capitalism and state-corporate control, whilst acknowledging the wider ways in which carceral logics and violence operate. 

We ask: What is border abolition? Why do we need to abolish borders, and why does abolishing borders require a world beyond prisons and policing? How are struggles to abolish empire, immigration controls, prisons and policing connected? How might we analyse the spatial and temporal connections sketched above, as well as between racialising borders? What lessons do anticolonial resistances hold for movements to abolish immigration controls, and how has resistance against policing and incarceration been integral to both? What kinds of communities of care are already being built by these everyday struggles and organised movements?

The conference will involve themed panels, roundtables and several open discussion slots, with the aim to create an accessible, welcoming and practically useful set of conversations. Six themed panels invite contributions on data technologies, documenting border violence, feminist approaches, solidarity infrastructures, histories of border abolition, and state racism/racial capitalism. A shared gallery, digital archive, resource toolkit, library and smaller digital breakout spaces will provide ways to meet and learn beyond the panel discussions.

We welcome contributions and ideas (whether for papers, presentations, workshops, artwork, creative sessions, questions or non-written media) that fit these themes, or suggest others. We encourage submissions of content that push back against traditional “academic” knowledge through this call. The panels are open for people from transit-solidarity communities to share their experiences of borders and border abolition (be it a photograph, a story, a group statement, a question, audio, video or other forms). 

The event will be ticketed on a sliding scale from zero, with a fund available for people needing help to cover childcare, translations, and other financial costs for unwaged/grassroots groups participating. Please see our Accessibility page for more information on this. 

Please submit your ideas for contributions to writing the panel name you wish to be considered for in the email subject, or writing “general” if your contribution does not fit into any of the proposed panels. Send us a maximum 300 word abstract/idea/contribution/explanation of what you would like to present. For other/non-written forms of submission, please indicate, with a few sentences, how you would like the material to be shared, and whether you would like to present it yourself.