Performativity, Pragmatism and Border Control Technologies: Democratising the Ontologies of Border Criminology


This article seeks to expand debates about Southernising border criminology to include an ontological dimension. In the context of increasingly technological border control practices, critical analysis of the global circuits of mobility control requires explicit theorisation of the ontological status of humans vis-a-vis their material environment. Such theorisation can also imbue border criminology scholarship with a radical democratic openness to Southern worldviews by destabilising traditional Northern forms of knowledge production about borders and migration. To this end, I synthesise insights from the framework of performativity and the philosophical tradition of pragmatism to propose a framework for analysing the deployment of novel border control technologies in the Global South. The resultant framework challenges state-centric and Northern-centric perspectives on crimmigration control by foregrounding Southern agency and explicitly challenging technicist framings of border control technologies that represent these tools as neutral technical components within a broader global system of state-based ‘migration management’.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2023-06-01
Pages:13 to 24
Section:Special Issue. Southern Perspectives on Border Criminology
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How to Cite
Singler, S. . (2023) “Performativity, Pragmatism and Border Control Technologies: Democratising the Ontologies of Border Criminology”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 12(2), pp. 13-24. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2893.

Author Biography

University of Oxford
 United Kingdom

Samuel Singler is a Departmental Lecturer in Criminology at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. His primary research focuses on the role of border control technologies on the merging of migration control and criminal justice, with a particular focus on border controls in Africa. He also researches the relationship between state sovereignty and Indigenous self-determination, focusing on the Sámi people of Northern Europe. Samuel is an Associate Director of the Border Criminologies network.