Comparative Border Studies


This Initiative will focus on promoting interdisciplinary, comparative research on the making, unmaking, crossing, and fortification of borders – national, colonial, regional, and continental. Our central thematics are organized as follows, broken down by year: 1) Human rights, citizenship, and racialized belonging (Year 1, 2015-2016); 2) Mobility, militarization, and containment (Year 2, 2016-2017); 3) Protest cultures and transnational solidarities (Year 3, 2017-2018). Please see our Mission Statement to learn more about our guiding research questions and objectives.

Mellon Initiative Team 2018-19

Co-Principal Investigators:

  • Sunaina Maira
  • Robert Irwin

Mellon Visiting Assistant Professors:

  • Maurice Stierl (July 2015 – June 2017)
  • Cristina Jo Pérez (July 2016 – June 2018)

Mellon Graduate Fellow:

  • John Guzmán

Upcoming Events

Presentation of Humanizing Deportation at International House at UC Davis
October 12th through November 6th, 2018
International House Davis
10 College Park, Davis, CA 95616

For more information, including the schedule of workshops and presentations, please visit: Presentation of Humanizing Deportation at International House at UC Davis

Presentation:  Cuerpo, territorio y género: migración de mujeres transgénero centroamericanas en la frontera sur de México
Ernesto Zarco, Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas
Thursday, Nov. 15, 3:00-4:30
912 Sproul Hall

For more information on this presentation, please visit: Cuerpo, territorio y género: migración de mujeres transgénero 

Presentation:  Sicarios: discursos y representaciones
Arturo Chacón Castañon (Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez)
Thursday, November 29, 2018
3:00-4:30 pm
912 Sproul

For more information on this presentation, please visit: Sicarios: discursos y representaciones


As the members of the UC Davis Comparative Border Studies Mellon Initiative:

  • We oppose Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning Syrian refugees indefinitely, and temporarily banning all, including Central American, refugees from entering the US. As exclusion of and restrictions on migrants and refugees of color from societies devastated by US military and economic interventions have a long history in the US, we denounce the recent ban on travel by Arab and African nationals from seven Muslim majority countries as a racist and Islamophobic act. While the ban may be temporarily withdrawn, it is clear that it is part of Trump’s ongoing criminalization of Muslim, Arab, and Latinx immigrants and communities and his xenophobic policies of border control.
  • We condemn the new administration’s attacks on undocumented and Mexican migrants and its plans to continue the long history of border fortification and militarization at the southern US border. We strongly oppose the administration’s insistence on expanding the existing border wall, tripling the number of ICE agents, expanding the category of “criminal” to include those migrants who have never been convicted of a crime, and drastically accelerating the violent detention and deportation of undocumented migrants. The US border regime is fundamentally racist and the administration stokes a politics of fear based on mobilizing xenophobia and the garrison mentality of a settler colonial state.
  • We refuse calls to “take back control of our borders and our country” as they elide indigenous sovereignty, paving the way for this administration to further prioritize corporate profit over the self-determination and survival of Indigenous communities. This refusal to acknowledge indigenous concerns is evident in the recent approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline in opposition to the demands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
  • As border studies scholars, we are deeply troubled by the expansion of the military- and prison-industrial complexes into the domain of border policing. We strongly oppose the privatization of border enforcement as part of a system that allows security corporations to profit from the violent detention of migrants and refugees as well as the outsourcing of border surveillance and policing to US and international corporations.
  • We recognize that the US border regime is only one of many that shares technologies and strategies of containment, exclusion, counterterrorism, surveillance, policing, and racial violence around the world. This larger network of migration control has had detrimental consequences for the freedom of movement and for migrant rights around the world. We condemn the imperial, racialized, and violent exclusion of migrants globally, as starkly visible in places such as Israel, Australia, the European Union, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, India, and elsewhere.
  • We support political resistance to intensified border control regimes in the US and globally and we stand in solidarity with those who continue to transgress violent border obstacles or refuse to be removed, as well as those who are building movements for sanctuary everywhere.


  • Congratulations to Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor, Cristina Jo Pérez, who has just accepted a two year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan in the Department of Women’s Studies! She’ll be starting there in the fall of 2018.
  • We are pleased to announce the names of our graduate student affiliates who have been awarded Mellon Summer Research Fellowships for the summer of 2018:
    • Morganne Blais-McPherson (Anthropology)
    • Lizbeth de la Cruz (Spanish and Portuguese)
    • John Guzmán (Spanish and Portuguese)
    • Sarah Hart (Performance Studies)
    • Adam Kersch (Anthropology)
    • Gabi Kirk (Geography)
    • Zunaira Komal (Cultural Studies)
    • Marlené Mercado (Cultural Studies)
    • Matthew Nesvet (Anthropology)

    Congratulations! It’s exciting for us to be supporting the innovative work of this engaged group of students.

  • Announcing UCD’s new UC Davis Migration Studies
    This site includes everything going on in Migration Studies across campus, including items related to research, policy, events, news, and other activities.
    If you have any postings or updates for this site, please contact Holly Lefebvre:
  • Congratulations to Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor Maurice Stierl, whose appointment at UC Davis concluded in June, 2017, and who has been awarded the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the UK, which allows him to conduct research on his project “The EU’s Contested Forms of Border Governance in the Mediterranean Sea” for three years. He will be hosted at the University of Warwick and has decided to take up the award in May 2018.

Follow us on Facebook