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Banal bordering: everyday encounters between migrants and security officers

Innes, A. J. ORCID: 0000-0002-0100-8990 (2021). Banal bordering: everyday encounters between migrants and security officers. Migration Studies, 9(3), pp. 968-988. doi: 10.1093/migration/mnab002


The encounter between a migrant and the state is almost always fraught. The power of the state to approve or deny immigration status produces a power imbalance whereby the migrant is subject to the whim of the state. This research extracts encounters between migrants, police, immigration officers, and interpreters in the UK to conceptualise how the minutia of these encounters, and the standardised practices they involve, might impact the ability of migrants to express themselves and exercise their own voice in interactions. Adopting a reflexive ethnographic methodology, and using data gathered with police workers as a pilot case, I consider how the varied objectives of agencies and actors in the migration sector intersect with migrant experiences in practice. Ultimately implications for migrant security lie in the recognition that migrant voice can be obscured as a result of mundane and everyday procedure. Banal bordering processes can go unnoticed and unaddressed by policy makers, but are often loaded with meaning for migrants subject to them. The vulnerability of migrants and the unbalanced nature of encounters between migrants and the state highlights how state power manifests at an everyday level, suggesting that insecurity is not unique to migrants without documents, but is present in all encounters between migrants and the state. Nevertheless, the professionals who are interacting with migrants are often in a position whereby they have the experiential expertise to offer workable, though limited, solutions, although they do not always have access to the channels or the resources necessary to implement them.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Migration Studies following peer review. The version of record Innes, A. J. (2021). Banal bordering: everyday encounters between migrants and security officers. Migration Studies, is available online at:
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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