2018 ABS Best Paper Awards

Congratulations to the following 2018 ABS Best Paper Award Recipients!


Best Conference Paper

Miguel Díaz-Barriga and Margaret Dorsey, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

“Filling in the Gaps: Walls without Limits and Sovereignty with Exceptions”

For the security state, gaps at borders serve a purpose–whether tunnels, holes, or “empty” spaces. They also signify a crisis conduit–for violence, crime, and barbarism–that’s ready to infiltrate the nation-state. We analyze the lack of wall as a space in which the state reenacts and reinforces sovereign practices based on militarization and exclusion, as seen in our discussion of deterrence/propulsion, rajando/haciendo vacuo, and states of exception/norm exception. Gaps foster the intensification of sovereign practices associated with border walls, propelling border security strategies beyond deterrence to global interdictions; splitting, scarring and now emptying the landscape, and making diminished rights the norm. State actors base their politics of exclusion on an exercise of power that build from heterosexist constructs to rail against the voices/perspectives of women and people of color. Mexican-American activists and politicians denounce these constructs by locating their struggle against the border wall in a wider politics of migrants’ rights, dignity, and well-being.
Acts of protest and expressions of border thinking are increasingly necessary for, as we have seen, militarization is in a state of propulsion. Walls proliferate at a global level, as the United States and European Union member states thrust border security measures beyond their borders into Central America and Africa. We live in a time when states are revolutionizing border security measures, pushing them deeper inside and outside of their very own jurisdictional and constitutional boundaries, launching them into cities and towns, ranches and farms, backyards and remote jungles as well as wildlife refuges. For the state, gaps now seem to be everywhere.


Best Graduate Student Paper

Bertha Alicia Bermúdez Tapia, University of Colorado Boulder

“Where is home? A study of migrant shelters in a context of border violence and deportation”

The rapid increase in deportations during the last decade has provided an interesting avenue to analyze the resources deportees have available to them in Mexico after deportation. As a part of the deportation process, more than ninety percent of deportees are dropped off in the U.S.-Mexican border. This is problematic since most of them are originally from central and southern Mexico; they are not familiar with the border cities and do not have a social support network. Complicating the problem is the fact that in 2006, the Mexican government initiated a war to confront the drug cartels’ forces, generating a spiral of violence, the para-militarization of several border cities, and the destabilization of the local governments. Within this context, migrant shelters on the border area are serving as first-handed survival resource for internal deportees. Using a qualitative multilevel analytical model, in this study I investigate the organization of three migrant shelters along the Texas-Tamaulipas border, paying attention to how these shelters address and respond to the negative effects of border violence and massive deportation. My research reveals how macro level forces have changed local level dynamics, including the demographics of the migrant shelter populations, the internal configuration of the shelters, and the individual-level consequences of violence on internal deportees.


Best Undergraduate Student Paper

Mary Moeller, Western Washington University

“The Canada-U.S. Security Relationship: A Study of Cross-Border Collaboration against Human Trafficking Focusing on the Pacific Northwest”


Winners were announced the ABS Business Meeting in San Antonio were honored at the Mexican Cultural Institute on April 7, 2018. The Award Ceremony took place during the inauguration of El Cerco, a photographic exhibition sponsored by the Mexican Consulate in San Antonio, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF), the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University (ASU) and the ABS.

Association for Borderlands Studies