Border Policing in the Borderlands: Policing Politically Active Women on the Thai–Burma Border
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Extra legal border crossing is often considered a particular moment of physical transgression in a linear journey across clearly marked territorial sovereign borders. Based on this assumption, it is reasonable to expect that the policing of border crossing can be focused on a temporally and spatially contained moment. What 15 years of research in the field has taught me is that most border crossings last a lifetime, as does their policing. For many, border crossing is not just a moment, or an hour, or half a day that it takes to cross the point which on internationally recognised maps indicates the end of one state’s territory and the beginning of another. Rather, border crossing involves the process of evading authorities in approaching a specific cartographically marked line (or an approximation of where such a line is located), followed by a period of time in limbo—a limbo marked by extra legal status, or precarious migration status. Refugees often spend years living in camps, buffer zones or other areas geographically proximate to the cartographic border but somehow not yet in the destination country, and not entirely removed from their country of origin.