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  4. Justice, Borders, and Rights

Justice, Borders, and Rights

The Justice, Borders and Rights research stream consists of a group of researchers from a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary backgrounds whose work grapples with some of the most salient and polarizing debates around borders. Our work interrogates the social, cultural and political repercussions of and knowledge production around border practices -  issues are at the forefront of old and new debates about conflict and global inequalities. Our work is characterised by research partnerships, collaborations and knowledge exchange projects between academics, NGOs, INGOs, international media and cultural organisations, social welfare institutions, community organisations, legal professionals, policy makers, artists and politicians.


Webinar on the politics of social reproduction, migration in times of the pandemic:  23 November 2020

Please find the link to the video recording of a webinar on the politics of social reproduction, migration in times of the pandemic with Yasmin Gunaratnam, Gwyneth Lonergan and Sara Farris.  Chairs Umut Erel and Rachel Rosen.

Migration and (Maternal) Citizenship in Performance:  Tuesday 27 October 2020

How can the maternal migrate, cross borders and enable us to think globally with responsibility and care towards one another?  Is it possible to envision a maternal citizenship?

Speakers:  Elena Marchevska, Jennifer Verson, Umut Erel, Jina Valentine, Sara C Motta

Eventbrite link

Refugee Week during COVID-19

The Open University has produced a set of learning and research resources on refugees to celebrate Refugee Week 2020, led by Professor Marie Gillespie, member of the Justice, Borders and Rights research stream of the Citizenship and Governance SRA.  From free online courses and resarch on how refugees are navigating life during the COVID-19 pandemic, to creative and artistic projects in refugee camps, and with chld migrants separated from their families, there is so much to learn.  The Open University has a rich archive of material that we want to share with you - material created by, with, for and about refugees.

Understanding Refugee Experiences will be of interest to anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of the legal-political, economic and socio-cultural policies and frameworks that shape their lives.  It also reveals the many 'small acts' of artistic resistance to marginalisation as well as practical and creative expressions of solidarity networks.  So if you are interested in the challenges facing asylum seekers, refugees and the undocumeted as well as the many contributions they make to the UK, then take a moment to browse these pages and share them.

We all have much to learn from refugee experiences, especially at a moment when the global pandemic is disproportionately affecting minoritised and racialised groups and forcing us to reconsider who we are in relation to each other, what our responsibilities are as individuals, what community and solidarity now mean and to imagine better futures based on shared values of reciprocity, inclusion and equal rights for all.  Find out more.

OU academics publish blog on the future of UK citizenship


OU academics/Justice, Borders and Rights stream members Dr Agnes Czajka and Dr Eleni Andreouli have published a blog on the future of UK citizenship.

In August 2019, the think tank British Future launched an independent inquiry into UK citizenship policy, chaired by Alberto Costa MP, inviting experts to submit evidence.  In response, one group of academics and NGOs came together to map an agenda for citizenship policy in the UK.  This blog summarises some of their recommendations.

Justice Border, Rights Stream Lead Dr Umut Erel's article 'Migrant Mothers: performing kin work and belonging across private and public boundaries' has been selected as one of the Families, Relationships and Societies' new Editors Choice articles as featured on Bristol University Press website As part of this collection the article is now available to download for free until 31 January 2020. @FRSjournal

​The Discover Society feature 'Speaking Up, Not Talking Down' on representation of refugees, with contributions from Dr Umut Erel is now available.


Justice, Borders and Rights video playlist

Justice, Borders, and Rights engages with struggles for inclusion, recognition and representation against a backdrop of the construction, reconstruction, deconstruction and transgression of borders. Our key focus is on borders, conceived of in their myriad symbolic and material varieties, and how they frame, shape and define people, institutions, communities and nations. Researchers also look at how people challenge borders and construct communities and bridges across borders, including through international cultural exchange, media and communication networks.

Researchers in the stream approach the following questions from different perspectives:

  • What are the connections between and across old and new boundaries and social divisions around race, gender, class, sexuality, language, culture and religion?
  • How are exclusions and belongings of citizens and non-citizens shaped, debated and contested and re-created? 
  • What new methods, sites and practices are being created and mobilised for political, cultural and social participation and solidarity ?
  • What forms of activism and participation in and beyond the academy are contesting and changing borders of exclusion and discrimination?
  • What is the role of academic research and scholarship in contributing to and analysing borders and border-crossing practices at local and translocal, organisational and individual levels?
  • What and do theories of citizenship, justice, rights and governance contribute to the analysis of contemporary global/local politics and to imaginaries of alternatives and change?
Citizenship and governance logo

A-Z of Brexit: A guide to Brexit terminology

This glossary has been designed to explain some of the key terms used in relation to Brexit.

Download the guide

Year of Mygration

250 insights into how migration affects all of us, not just migrants.

Posted throughout 2018, 5 days a week for 50 weeks, ahead of the OU’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2019.

Learn about the campaign

Download the C&G newsletter

Check out the October 2018 newsletter:

Download as pdf

Statelessness and Sustainable Development at the 2019 High Level Political Forum: A moment for reflection

“Is citizenship relevant to sustainable development?” 

Yes. Here’s how.


Speaking Up, Not Talking Down

The Discover Society feature 'Speaking Up, Not Talking Down' on representations of refugees, with contributions from Dr Umut Erel, is now available

REF Impact Study Report

The Tate Exchange ‘Who Are We?’ Open University REF Impact Study Final Report is now available to view.