Professor Ayelet Shachar’s new book, The Shifting Border, reviewed in CHOICE
March 5, 2021
Professor Ayelet Shachar is the Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. Her recent publication, The Shifting Border: Legal cartographies of mobilization and migration, was recently reviewed by CHOICE:
Reading this essay by Shachar (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and Univ. of Toronto) with six contributed responses is like getting the dream dinner invitation to hear cutting-edge thought on borders. Shachar presents her thesis that physical/administrative/political borders have become passé: borders are not physical places but legal spaces that states can manipulate to yield desired outcomes, allowing states, for example, to capture undesirables and apply parallel legal rights regimes within those spaces, while also expanding outward beyond national borders, allowing extraterritorial inspection and exclusion from spaces within other countries’ territory. This reimagination of the Westphalian system proposes that while physical borders remain in place, their meaning changes—contradicting conventional expectations of both reified national borders and global borderless territories where rights are supposedly protected through international agreements and treaties. Shachar focuses on how states exclude. Six amazing authors respond to her thesis, engaging legal geography, law, political theory, political science, sociology, and historical accounts to critique and offer alternative or complementary views. These texts Include astute discussions of technology and how it contributes to altering border spaces, as well as how we exclude migrants even after their successful border crossing. Shachar’s response to critics follows, and the book ends with a fantastic bibliography.
–R. A. Harper, York College