Affecting migration: Public information campaigns and the intimate spatialities of border enforcement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


A broad body of research has examined the shifting spatialities of contemporary border enforcement efforts, drawing particular attention to how border enforcement efforts increasingly take place away from the territorial edges of border enforcing states. However, existing research largely focuses on border enforcement efforts that mobilize strategies of militarization, securitization, and criminalization. In response, this paper draws on work in the fields of emotional and feminist geopolitics, to broaden understandings of the sites, modalities, and spatialities of border governance. Drawing on in-depth interviews, archival research, and discourse analysis, this paper examines public information campaigns launched by US border enforcement agencies between 1990 and 2012. In doing so, I show how these campaigns aim to affect migrant decision-making and reduce unauthorized migration by circulating strategically crafted messages and images into the intimate spaces of everyday life where potential migrants and their loved ones live and socialize. Unlike the hard power strategies of militarized borders and migrant criminalization, public information campaigns work as soft-power tools of governance that target the emotional registers of viewers and both respond to and counter particular gender ideologies. As this analysis suggests, understanding the full complexity of contemporary border governance requires that we broaden the scope of analysis beyond the hard power strategies of militarization, securitization, and criminalization to examine the softer side of border governance, a project that the insights of feminist political geography are particularly well suited for.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1198-1215
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Feminist geopolitics
  • border enforcement
  • emotional geopolitics
  • migration management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Affecting migration: Public information campaigns and the intimate spatialities of border enforcement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this