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Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  530 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Forty thousand people died trying to cross international borders in the past decade, with the high-profile deaths along the shores of Europe only accounting for half of the grisly total.

In Violent Borders, Reece Jones argues that these deaths are not exceptional, but rather the result of state attempts to contain populations and control access to resources and opportunitie
ebook, 224 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Verso (first published 2016)
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Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think it was 2001, the first time someone said to me "open all the borders".

I agreed with them then, without thinking. Born itchy-footed, a science-fiction reader, I knew borders were petty and unnatural.

Since then I've read and heard many migrant narratives, border stories.

But it was only when I myself began to contend with borders, considering my options to be with someone on the other side, that I started revisiting that remark "open all the borders", that I started getting angry, that I st
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I finished this book almost two weeks ago and needed some time to mull it over. It comes from a decidedly leftist radical standpoint, although the way Reece Jones presents ideas and solutions, they come across as matter of fact. And just to clarify, it doesn't bother me because I tend in that direction, however Jones presents all arguments against the status quo rather than providing a balanced view. That's just what the book is, but helpful to know that when starting.

The book is very well resea
Kaelan Ratcliffe ▪ كايِلان راتكِليف
The Shame of Our Time

For God sake pick up this book.

I purchased this as a secondary companion to another read from Verso books, as the publisher offered free shipping to orders over £10. In other words, despite being very interested in this topic, it was ultimately a side thought to something more salient on my mind.* However, as it stands, I think I found Violent Borders a far more enlightening, thought provoking, and challenging read than my originally desired text. I mean this as no disr
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
Isn’t it awful to see all those poor migrants dying at our borders? The trouble is that their deaths are the intended, not accidental but intended outcome of policy decisions made in Europe, the US and elsewhere. Governments have forced migrants to use the most dangerous routes and thrown them on the mercies of people traffickers with the explicit objective of discouraging migration by making it brutally dangerous. To put these violent policies into effect, our governments have invested in vast ...more
Ola Hol
The author makes the point that borders should be removed for variety of reasons: mainly to ensure human economic rights and equality of opportunities (with decent pay, decent working and living conditions) and to prevent climatic change more effectively. Borders serve the interests of corporations, but not poeple - there is a lot of vested interest to preserve borders from the point of view of the top few percent, whereas they are not beneficial to everybody else (the vast majority). He argues ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
On the back of my copy of Violent Borders Vijay Prashid is quoted as saying "I'd like an endless supply of Reece Jones' Violent Borders to hand out to all the people I meet who flirt with an anti-refugee sensibility. This book is the antidote to the world of walls that we live in, an argument for a world of humanity". Well I'm sorry but I have to disagree. I don't know anyone with a 'go back to where you came from' mentaility who would finish this book (and I know a lot of people in this group). ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
clearly articulated argument describing the direct and structural violence inherent in the borders walling of states, with a bold prescription of allowing free movement of people. Although the book’s subtitle references “refugees,” that description is too narrow (conceptually and legally) for the argument the author is actually making, which implicates migrants compelled to move for any variety of reasons - economic, ecological, or protection-related. Really good stuff.
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Impressive. Before I started this book I thought it would be about present-day migration from Africa and the Middle-East to Europe and from Latin-America to the USA. Of course that gets mentioned, but there are many more migrations taking place even today and this book goes also back in time to other migrations and to limitations imposed on the freedom of movement. It started when our ancestors went from being hunter-gatherers to farmers and with that came the need for fences. Much later there i ...more
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an important and insightful exploration of the history and context surrounding the worldwide immigration crisis – and the role newly militarized borders play in exacerbating it.

No doubt, Violent Borders approaches this topic from a decidedly leftist standpoint, but it is less interested in bomb-throwing than in analysis of how we got here. Particularly insightful and thought-provoking is Jones' argument that the current crisis is provoked by two fairly recent developments: the militariza
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting book that deepens the understanding of the violence that borders create, both direct towards “illegal” immigrants, but also structurally on many levels (socioeconomic, environmental, etc.). I liked the way Jones used the lens of “Seeing like a state” of James Scott to analyze the raison d’être and the functions of borders, as means of control, exclusion, enclosure and exploitation.

Jones is convincing on the perverse effects borders have on our society, on various issues such as clim
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This book does a great job at giving an overview about what is wrong with the militarisation of borders and the history of the concept of state border itself - but really does not deliver when it comes to suggesting an alternative. I am intrigued by her idea of abandoning state borders but she doesn't give any good arguments besides "the way it is now is not working". Well, yeah, but that doesn't mean that the other end of the extreme is necessarily the right way to go, either. I was thinking th ...more
Sonja P.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This made me think about borders in a different way, and also gave me a lot of information I needed. I think we should all know more about the realities of immigration and the harsh and violent death toll it can take. This is sobering, but necessary.
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Violent Borders is about the inherent violence of borders, how we've learned to take arbitrary boundaries for granted, and a picture of how the world could be without them. I'd recommend this to anyone pissed off about anti immigrant policy and ideology.
Onyango Makagutu
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Abolish borders. Have global environmental standards, global minimum wage, workers protection and above all, freedom of movement!
Great read, this book
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"This book disputes the idea that borders are a natural part of the human world and that migration is driven primarily by traffickers and smugglers. Instead, the existence of the border itself produces the violence that surrounds it. The border creates the economic and jurisdictional discontinuities that have come to be seen as its hallmarks, providing an impetus for the movement of people, goods, drugs, and weapon across it. The hardening of the border through new security practices is the sour ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book. Completely opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about borders and articulated so many concepts I had emotional responses to, but wanted words to be able to express to others. I could read this several times and take in new information. This book has opened my eyes to the world of radical geography. It’s a critical and exciting area of research and thought that I hope more people will become familiar with. I’m excited to read more in this area thanks to this book ...more
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book does a great job presenting the facts around migration and his argument against borders and exclusion in an easy-to-read format. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in thinking through the underlying foundations of our current "migration crisis."
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
There is a lot here! About how national borders are harmful. It really goes deep into the history of nations vs states, the history of borders. Maybe too much? Regardless it gave me three full meals of food for thought, that's for sure.
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
...Well, in general this is not a very optimistic or positive book. :-(

In fact, as Jones gets rolling with the various explanations and historic points that led us to where we are (globally), it can be quite deflating and really sad. Although Jones attempts to suggest solutions in the very last few pages of the book, by then it is really too little too late to leave you with any sort of optimistic outlook about the future of our world. The few utopian suggestions presented are worth consideratio
Errol Orhan
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author really really really wants to politicize the idea of borders, and I think he actually succeeded in making me rethink what borders are and theorize about what borders could and perhaps should be. Most of his arguments are openly Marxist and although that is definitely not a bad thing, he sometimes does fall into the pit of raging against the big and evil corporations who are up to no good and should be stopped. Then again, he also does a wonderful job in applying Marxist geography to b ...more
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was really looking forward to this book, because: borders. But really found it wanting. I suppose Jones wanted to write a book similar to the stuff that James Scott, David Harvey and Stephen Graham put out. And who wouldn't? But the way Jones bounced from location to location without really explaining what he was doing and why.

This book may be really great for people at the undergraduate level and an introduction to challenging the very concept of borders. But once you realize that's what he's
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-and-kept
I really should have done a bit more research before picking this book up. I thought it was going to be about the refugee crisis, and while it does cover it in parts, thats not really what it is about. I found this a very confused work making very strenuous links to its thesis: that borders are inherently violent. It very much read like a bad term paper whete the author ttied to tie in any examples he can to an assigned topic. I enjoyed a lot of the information in this book (and feel the author ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The problem is neither our knowledge of climate change nor the recognition by most leaders in the world that something needs to be done. The problem is that the bordered containers of power in the world—states—and the venue for making agreements—the United Nations—give too much weight to the individual sovereignty of states and do not adequately represent the planet-wide needs of the earth.”

A very ambitious book by Reece Jones which attempts to detail the harm done to migrants, workers and our
Jones looks at the rise of hard borders, and how the emerged with the rise of the modern state.
Jul 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I think I read Violent Borders before for a class in college, but I can't really remember. That might say something about how memorable this book is. I really wanted to like this book, but I think it fails too many times in its analysis for me to really like it. Overall, I think Violent Borders is a great introduction into how inherently violent and unjust borders are, it's a great first step in questioning why borders exist in the first place.

My biggest problem with this book is how it handles
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
In his book, Reece Jones problematizes the current nation-state concept, especially with a focus on the man-made, artificial borders and the violence caused by them. He challenges the reader to think critically about a wide range of vital topics from the asylum policies of the Western countries to the militarization of the borders around the world. To restate the author’s argument briefly, he stresses over the necessity of open-borders to solve the violence. Jones legitimizes his argument throug ...more
Heidi Archer
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Five stars. Short-ish book concisely outlining some philosophies and history of the movement of people and nation-states' legal controls and violent border enforcement of same.

This was hard to read from an entirely academic perspective, especially considering the migrant and refugee crisis in Europe right now. Jones pivots the narrative away from fear and othering to asking "why" people are moving in a way that is deemed illegal by the rich and privileged. Oh, yes, and the legacy of colonialism
Muhammed Nijim
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reece Jones attempts to give an account for the artificiality of the human-made unnatural borders that were an outcome of the nation-states building and race over resources. Jones also talks in one of his chapters about the quick responsiveness of states when they are confronted with migrants, and how they rapidly develop strategies to deal with them. The state is usually employing violence and repression to deal with the armless refugees who are seeking for a better life, away from their war-st ...more
A. S.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nuanced look at the problems that national borders cause both humans and the environment. Interestingly, movement (via trade and exploration) allowed certain nations to rise (e.g. Western Europe) by colonization, but at the same time prevented the serfs of those nations to languish by commodifying property. I don't know enough to refute Jones' arguments, but he presents them well, and his academic background as a professor of Geography shows in the meticulously researched book. Sadly, since th ...more
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The system of states, borders, and resource enclosures is embedded in our culture and our way of life and permeates many aspects of our existence, to the point that it is difficult to imagine life outside of it. But the past two hundred years have included major social changes that were previously unthinkable as people have collectively resisted injustices in the world, including, slavery, colonialism, lack of universal suffrage, and South Africa's apartheid system. Today we take it for granted ...more
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Reece Jones is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Hawai‘i. He is the author of two award-winning books Border Walls (2012) and Violent Borders (2016) as well as over two dozen journal articles and four edited books. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Geopolitics and he lives in Honolulu with his family.

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“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
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“By refusing to abide by a wall, map, property line, border, identity document, or legal regime, mobile people upset the state's schemes of exclusion, control, and violence. They do this simply by moving.” 1 likes
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