Border Security: Discourses and Practices in the UK April 2013 – 2016


This research explores one of the fundamental pillars on which the security of nation states and their societies is built: the territorial border. Specifically, it examines whether contemporary narratives or ‘discourses’ of UK border security, which has undergone major changes and intensifying challenges in recent years, correspond with current security practices. It does so by using a mixed-methods, multi-dimensional, multi-actor research design that looks to analyse and compare the discourses of border security in academic, public and policy arenas in the UK; to identify and understand the reality of border security; and to identify the tension inherent in border management between security and fundamental rights. Based on new empirical data, the project revisits the relation between border, territory, sovereignty and security. The outcome will be a new theorisation of border security.

Principal Investigator

Bastian Vollmer


The Leverhulme Trust

News & Media

Stowaways along the England route. “This is going to escalate sometime.”
De Groene Amsterdammer | 25 Feb 2015








The project will revisit the relation between border, territory, sovereignty and security in the view of leading political theorists such as Agamben, Benjamin, Deleuze & Guattari, Derrida, as well as Balibar and Connolly. Demarcating and discussing the understanding and meaning of border and border security in the UK, and comparing it with border practices, has wider relevance and represents a key intersection of issues of migration, security and political theory.


The project uses a mixed-methods, multi-dimensional and multi-actor approach. It combines discourse analysis, using corpus linguistics and critical discourse analysis, as well as in-depth interviews with the public, stakeholders (governmental departments, enforcement staff, NGOs, etc.), policy makers and leading academics.