Research

My research centers on security, violence and law, and their constitutive effects on social boundaries and difference. Embedded in critical approaches to law and social sciences, it is driven by contemporary social and political problems of liberal democracies. Many of my publications have explored borders, mobility and migration, however, my interests equally extend to poverty, race and postcolonial relations. My research is embedded in political, legal and social thought, critical security studies, socio-legal studies, political geography, and increasingly social psychology.

 

Starting with the stranger, as a paradoxical figure of physical proximity and social distance, in my current research, I probe into the governing of social relations and social distance (interactive and normative) through legal authority – analyzing the latter’s capability to produce identities, spaces and relations and by implications to regulate and securitize the social. My book project on Securing Indifference (2016) seeks to uncover techniques of governing indifference, how collective indifference to human suffering and death is induced by liberal democracies. Empirically, I draw upon laws that seek to regulate relations to irregular migrants, underlining law as a constitutive force in governing social distance and collective normative dissonance. In this context, my latest article The Saved and the Drowned: Governing Rescue at Sea analyzes recent cases of people left to die on the seas and The Curious State of the Good Samaritan underlines the uses of law for restricting humanitarian interactions. It illustrates how liberal democracies negotiate what counts as a humanitarian act, who counts as a humanitarian actor, and who is the humanitarian subject.

 

My previous research and book Security, Law and Borders: At the Limits of Liberties (2010) provides a critical analysis of the disjuncture in the legal geographies of liberal democracies between policing and liberties. It is based upon a detailed empirical analysis of legal bordering practices in migration controls. Drawing upon the French waiting zone, US maritime interceptions and Australian off-shore processing, this study demonstrates that the limitation of liberties is not an anomaly of liberal rule, but embedded within the legal geographies of liberal democracies.