Sample International Relations Paper on Views from the South


Borders can be viewed as a broad array of things. It may be a thin line that demarcates two different territories. Moreover, a border may not only be distinct territories but provincial borders that separate two neighborhoods. Also, a border can be reduced to a small scale such as that in a house that separates different rooms, walls, doors, windows or a separating pavement between streets or the inside and outside of human body. Schimanski (2006) asserts that borders may not necessarily be physical or tangible but also symbolic. They carry with them rich cultural, social and political information. Borders that separate communities, societies and cultural identities are thin invisible lines. Therefore, it is imperative to consider borders beyond frontiers, limits, boundaries, barrier, line, zone or a point of crossing. The changing nature of borders has given rise to myriad concepts that predominantly consider borders as part of human life, and influences different aspects of life in varied ways. Precisely, a border represents many things that are difficult to conceptualise. It is an abstract phenomenon that often instigates situations to do with segregation, violence or death.

Across the world, different countries and communities are involved in conflict arising from border issues. Many times, natural resources determine the kind of economic activities carried out in different areas. Thus, conflicts occur when such natural resources are situated on borders that are difficult to determine. As a result, parties affected are often involved in tensions and war as they seek to protect their resources. Based on myriad discussions surrounding borders, borderscape term has been coined. It makes it easy for people to consider borders as part of landscapes that can accurately be determined. Borders can then be expressed through concrete figures and representations. Accordingly, borders may signify metaphors in form of stories. At times, they present complex configurations of space and time. Andrijasevic (2008) opine that border stories often create illusions of spaces. This is supported by the assertion that borders do change, when they do, new generations may not have a clue of a border that existed in the past. However, it is logical to say that borders are best expressed in terms of images instead of words. For instance, a person can express a border using an image of a fence. Here, the fence reinforces the idea and figure of a boundary. In brief, it is right to say that borders represent broad array of things and so it is our role to understand and conceive borders as method to help outline the changing nature of international migration and control in regards to international relations.

Borders as Method and the Changing Nature of International Migration and Its Control

Globalisation on borderless world and retreat of the nation-state

Globalisation has opened borders for trade. As a result, there has been unprecedented migration of people from one place to another. Many believe that globalisation is good for the global economy because it creates new employment opportunities and transfer critical technological development. On the other hand, critics believe that globalisation transfer unfair trade practices from one country to another (Balibar, 2004). For instance, Asian countries have been criticised for promoting poor working conditions. An example is when Nike was criticised for using child labor when a newspaper showed a Taiwanese child sewing a soccer ball. All these issues arise as a result of opening up borders.

Borders as method can be theorised as elements of globalisation that creates borderless threats to nations when unregulated number of people move from one territory to another. United States and other Europeans nations are particularly concerned with this issue as it supports influx of criminals and spread of diseases from host nations (Ferguson, 2006). As narrated by Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez, there is constant movement of people within borderlands. He narrates that, as a child of Mexican immigrant parents, he was raised in California but had to strengthen family bonds by visiting relatives at the northern Mexican border city (Santiago, 2006). Consistent visits made them become part of middle world, a border between two nations and populated by immigrants (Santiago, 2006). Immigrants are associated with different activities that pose danger to stability of nations. It is for this reason that Trump’s administration is spearheading the construction of a wall between United States and Mexico. Based on this, people are convinced that the inherent characteristics of current globalisation necessitated by open borders continue to reshape different geographical dimensions and thus create instability.

Border as method can then be used to understand international migration and subsequent control in regards to globalisation creating borderless states. Thus, borders address this problem and strive to make sense of the different form of movements of people that crisscross different spaces making the concept difficult to comprehend. Part of the complication is anchored on the metaphorical concept used to explain global mobility. This flow and movement of people necessitated by globalisation envisages critical discussions of the new method of movement within borders. The complexity of this problem has instigated myriad ethnographic studies aimed at understanding the concept of movement within borders by highlighting on particular cases and patterns witnessed across the world (Laclau, 2005). These studies will be useful in providing a connection between globalisation and movement within borders using conceptual and analytical tools. The assertion that globalisation has made it easy for people to move within borders may not be true considering that most immigrants often move from one state to another not for business but to escape from criminal proceedings in their host countries or with the aim of committing crimes in countries they claim to visit.

To help understand international migrations, borderless nations necessitated by globalisation sets the agenda for discussions. Goodwin (2006) asserts that in so far as globalizations and its impact on migration continue, the relevance of borders will definitely diminish. Considerably, the world is set to witness the multiplication of borders. This is anchored on the premise that when borders are not controlled, people will continue to move in and out of these nations. As a result, such movements pose problems in trying to regulate and control movement of illegal immigrants. There will be many entry and exit points allowing free movement of people and goods. Globalisation has reorganized and reformatted the contemporary world. Traditional borders are viewed under social, cultural, political and economic categories. Therefore, international migration tends to circumscribe to the economic zones that proliferate the previous recognized borders and spaces across the world. Borders have become methods of articulating movement of people where in most cases it tends to obstruct global passage of people, goods and objects (Jensen, 2005). Borders play significant roles in producing time and space illusions that define nations and postcolonial capitalism. Makovsky (2004) believes that the deep understanding of borders and movement of people is critical in comprehending the role of social and political orientations that determine control. This fundamentally redefines the shape of borders and migration regimes witnessed across the world.

Most of these migration regimes and patterns are based on movement of labor and commodity. Though, these movements present long-term problems in regards to frontier expansions, territorial demarcations and security assurance. Based on perceived long term problems, nations have retreated to formulate policies and laws that govern movement of people across their borders. For example, the United States is actively building a wall to deter the movement of people across its Mexican border. This is meant to ensure control of those visiting the nations and prevent illegal undocumented immigrants from moving in and out at will. Wolls (2005) is convinced that the current global transition in regards to movement creates pressure on countries to test their most cherished values and histories to come up with measures to address the problem presented by globalisation. Again, formulation of policies based on values and histories is important in mapping geographical disruption brought about by capitalist globalisation.

The need of control is captured on Santiago’s narration. In this work, the narrator provides a view of their movement within the border where they come across illicit activities of transgression and prostitution (Santiago, 2006).  According to his view, prostitution practiced in the border represents the border cities and the kinds of present crisis (Santiago, 2006).  Therefore, nations rely on citizenship as the central mechanism to control international migration and govern their boundaries. According to Huth (2001), this method determines the decisions aimed at establishing those people afforded entry and those who do not represent a nation’s ideals and thus denied entry. This strategy has been used in the past and present to demarcate borders and control entry and exit across territories. Contemporary borders are thus created to envisage exclusion of particular rights in the determination and maintenance of physical boundaries.



The proliferation and fortification of borders

Borders are methods of proliferation and fortification of boundaries. Notably, national borders are used to express continental, international, regional and disintegrated boundaries based on economics and political orientation of countries (Gschrey, 2011). Across many nations in the world, violence has shaped lives and relationships that play out within the borders. It is imperative to think about the many unreported deaths in the border between Mexico and United states or in the border across the Mediterranean Sea (Gschrey, 2011).  Accordingly, new forms of war continue to escalate the vast borderlands involving broad array of countries. This discussion highlights on the struggles of migrants against the violence experienced at the borders. Borders create greater understanding of international migration and control in regards to proliferation of borders and struggles that define the contemporary world. Although proliferation of borders, as discussed by Gschrey (2011) implicates the operation of countries in regards to dispossession and exploitation. Economic and political orientations around borders come into play in fostering discussions revolving around migration and control.

The border is dangerous as narrated by Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez in his work “Notes from an Unrepentant Border Crosser” (Santiago, 2006). Here, a border crosser reports about creepy movement at the border where he came across a person telling him how the border was dangerous (Santiago, 2006). The people involved on the discussions reflect on the number of deaths they have come across in the border during the past year. A man is heard saying that there have been myriad murders cases in the past involving women (Santiago, 2006). Nonetheless, each country at the border has devised ways of determining their citizens based on cultural orientations anchored on national identities. Mexicans along the border have coined ways of ensuring that America culture does not spread to their nation, same to United States. According to the narration, the border zone is dangerous and has initiated fortification of the border lines to help manage and control migration of people.

To help understand international migration and control, proliferation and fortification of boundaries is paramount as it reinforces the idea of a wall. According to Xiang (2007), the image of a wall between two nations entrenches the idea of clear-cut separations between the inside and outside of a country as well as the perfect integration of nations. Border as methods provides insightful information in regards to tensions and conflicts that arise along border lines that are anchored on inclusion and exclusion. Again, borders determine the changing nature of social inclusion at present state. Accordingly, it provides an understanding of the impacts of border crossing from the view point of transit controlled by global political players, agencies and capitalists. The economic, cultural and political powers sort and filter the flow of goods, commodities, labor and technological information. Tsing (2005) believe that discussions on migration and control have reshaped powers of capitalists who are engaged in most of the decision making processes. The role of such discussions is to understand and provide sense on the critical contributions of capitalists in determining those who enter and leave different nations. At the border of United States and Mexico, capitalists exist in the form of drug lords and law enforcement officers. Many times, these global players are believed to be responsible for the influx of undocumented people in and out of these nations as they strive to promote their illegal activities. These have created economic, cultural and political instability in the United States and Mexico.

International migration and control across the border is achieved through fortification of boundaries. Fortification of boundaries is meant to achieve border control not military defense. Also, it is meant to allow borders act as physical barriers as oppose to virtual lines and symbolic declared boundaries. As well, they signify asymmetrical point of origin and intent. The primary goal of border is to fortify boundaries and deter military assault or cross-border flow of transnational players. The main target of unfortified boundaries includes refugees, drug traffickers, weapon smugglers and imminent threats such as insurgents and terrorists. In international relations studies, fortified boundaries deter the entry of infiltrators and that is the reason for barrier construction in form of walls. Though, this may not be the best way to control international migration. Well-connected individuals will always find their way through. Insurgents and terrorists are persons who may not rely only on physical crossing the border to achieve their mission. As a result, proliferation and fortification of border have raised many discussions in regard to humanity. People who wish to cross the border may be in dire need of food and security as claimed by Sassen (2006). Blocking them along the border may not be the best way to deal with immigrants and refugees.

Borders are much more than just geographical constructs

In the past, political geographers had formal interest on borders. However, most of these interests did not extend to mere consideration of borders as natural or artificial features that signified boundaries. Notably, today, borders must be considered much more than geographic constructs but also as social, economic and political constructs. In history, the formation of Grande as a boundary between United States and Mexico was a mere political decision that arose from interactions and conflicts. Gschrey (2011) reveals that previously, nations considered geopolitical reasoning before deciding on location of borders and boundaries. As a result, many believe that political players were completely detached from social life of the people occupying such spaces. During the process of demarcation, many people who often are affected by the emergence and disappearance of boundaries have little voice. Regardless of the border representations whether physical or mythical, borders are not just geographical constructs both reflect real political strategies and social ideologies. Distinctively, borders impacts of people’s lives and set political agenda of regions that have serious corollary both materially and expressively. Therefore, borders are methods through which people satisfy and convey their political, economic and social orientations. As such, people are attached to these places for many reasons more than geographic natural features.

Borders are global corridors. In Notes from an Unrepentant Border Crosser, Santiago talks about a photograph that was taken at the border of United States and Mexico. Here, the narrator reveals that beneath the photograph was an inscription of Tijuana town (Santiago, 2006). This can be used to glorify the social, economic and political impacts of spaces occupied by towns or borders. According to the narrator, Tijuana is significant to the Mexicans so do some borders in other parts of the world (Santiago, 2006). Towns and borders are often named after historical events and carry with them social, economic and political relevance. In this case, borders may be considered global points that have significant meanings to people who talk or walk through them. Based on this view, researchers continue to consider the importance of borders basing their analysis on social, economic and political aspects. It is imperative for people to view border from a wider perspective other than geographic orientations.

This method can be used to further understand international migration and control. In viewing borders from a wider perspective, consensus has risen among scholars who treat borders as spaces where there are constant flow of people and goods. Borders provide fertile grounds for studying social, economic and political life of people because these people tend to control local movement from transnational networks and cope with emerging power. Borders within European territories are perfect examples when it comes to discussing borders on a broad perspective. Here, borders are conceptualised as political, social and economic resources that can often be mustered when opened or closed (Mignolo, 2000). As a result, the EU has come up with efforts to promote social, economic and political integration to support free labor markers and encourage monetary mobility. In other words, these borders have been turned into social points where people interact and exchange good and services. These borders have become more flexible and thus pose problems when it comes to management and control of immigrants. This can be explained based on the increasing complexity of social, economic and political networks within the regions.

Borders are saturated with significance

Borders are saturated with significance and are avenues through which people and government authorities select those who are allowed in or not. They are instrumental in determining enemies and friends. Based on these assertions, borders are unequally permeable. They are routes through which certain people are allowed to pass across with relative ease while others find it difficult to go through them (Stein, 2008). In many parts of the world, given group of people are allowed to move with relative freedom while others are subjected to thorough interrogation, suspicion and hostility. In crossing through some boundaries, who and what you are remains critical. This is where international migration and control comes in. Borders are used to selectively admit people in furthering international relations (Gschrey, 2011). For example, A United States citizen may find it easy to move from San Diego to Tijuana with ease while Mexicans find the story different as they try to do the same. Borders have been used as tools to unequally teat people because citizens generally think of their own rights but fail to accept that other people have same rights. As a result, many scholars believe that borders are saturated with significance and only the privileged find it easy to move across.

This argument is reinforced by Santiago who narrates that there are acceptable languages at the border. In order to move in and out of Mexico or United States, a person must learn both languages to necessitate admission (Santiago, 2006). Inequality demonstrated within the borders has pushed people to try and adapt to prevailing conditions. He narrates that the border crosser had a special word that he and his siblings used when crossing the border (Santiago, 2006). They had to learn some language connotations from their mother, though it made no sense just like the border. This excerpt demonstrates the idea of how international relations have deteriorated in the recent past. For example, an EU passport holder may find it easy to navigate immigration procedures in most countries. If one is not a holder, then he or she is likely to go through long queues before being interrogated in regards to reasons for travel and how long they are likely to stay. Though, it is a better way of exercising control across the borders, many find it unequal treatment of people. People of significance will always enjoy rights to move in and out of countries.

Accordingly, saturated significance of borders makes it easy to exercise control and manage international migration for business or personal reasons. Tourists are always given special treatment compared to those seeking asylum. The suspicions and attitudes surrounding border mobility is a better way of understanding migration across territories. Popescu (2012) reveals that migration for economic purposes that was previously considered an aspect of enterprise and courage is now viewed as criminal and shameful. Sontag (2003) avows that colonialists and white settlers thought it was their rights to settle on some places in Africa and even control them. Based on this view, European settlers in Africa were merely economic migrants who came to better their economic activities and promote their beliefs. As well, people living in developed countries believe that their migratory movement is fundamental rights while they tend to restrict migrants from developing countries (Mezzadra and Neilson, 2013). Borders continue to make people live in highly unequal world characterised by discrimination and skewed treatment of people based on significance.

Borders are not just about the blocking of subjects

Borders are methods used to bring subjects into discourse and scrutiny. Identities of people and their activities are inherently territorial (Matthews, 2005). Also, the power of adjacency through borders binds or isolates subjects and their own identities. As matter of concern, borders bring forth the discussion of subjects in regards to group formation and continuation (Langmann, 2011). Today, many communities are in pursuit of their own identities and believe they can achieve through border discussions. There is growing discourse on complex forms of citizenry witnessed in the United Kingdom, where subjects can simultaneously ascribe to different ideologies embedded on existing territorial borders (Calhoun, 2002). Discussions have evolved to a point where analysis does not only focus on the people but their beliefs, values and ideologies governing their thinking. Further, border control has also evolved to prevent the spread of ideologies across territorial border. It is because of these that countries across the world are erecting walls to block movement of people and their beliefs across. Many countries cross the world are afraid of the latest development witnessed along borders where people transfer bad influence and behaviors such as drug abuse that intoxicate their people.

Borders as method to discuss different subjects can be supported by Santiago’s narration. Here, the narrator discusses about social ills happening on the other side of the border that risks being transferred to the United States through the border (Santiago, 2006).  The story is about Tijuana night clubs characterised by prostitution and where women speak languages that do not align with their characters (Santiago, 2006). In this particular club, attention is subverted to men who are gazing in the club (Santiago, 2006).  In the club’s culture, women demonstrate more power than men. Also, the stripper culture further questions the role of women in Tijuana city but reinforcing the idea of single women flourishing in this space (Santiago, 2006). What is more astonishing in all these is the notion of men being displayed on the club instead of women. This excerpt elaborates on some unique cultural behaviors that must be consolidated in the discussions of borders and subjects.

Inclusion of different subject discourses in border discussions is important in understanding migration and control across the borders. For a long time, border discussions have often revolved around security, defense and political discourse (Bojadzijev and Saint-Saens, 2006). However, it is important to include other aspects of the people’s behavior and culture in the discussions. Also, some discourse in regards to asylum seekers should also form the basis of discussion especially in boundaries involving countries with internal wars and wrangles (Biesta, 2015). Relating to controlling movement of people across, strict policies have been put in place in different countries to manage different aspects of people and their social life. Particularly, nations are afraid if bad behaviors and inappropriate cultures are allowed to flow into their territories.


The border is not merely an analysis of subjects but a method used to understand the international migration and control of movement within boundaries. By this, borders are used to dissect the abstract methodological aspects to help gain understanding in regards to different situations. In the past, scholars have used borders to explain tension, conflicts and connections of people transverse different states across the globe. Notably, this discussion has elaborated on different border perspectives as a method to explain globalisation, fortification of territories, and social, cultural and political aspects of borders. Also, the saturated significance of borders and varied subject discourses has been thoroughly discussed. Significantly, the analysis has linked the discussions to views from the south borrowing Santiago’s narration about a border crosser. Therefore, borders play significant roles in promoting international relations as it enhances movement of people from one state to another for business or personal missions. As a result, future discussions of borders should be broad to accommodate the many dimensions that scholars have not investigated.






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