Skip to main content
Browse by:

Outsourcing Asylum and Border Enforcement in the Asia-Pacific: The Experiences of the Republic of Nauru

Headshot of Julia Morris with talk title and location details; background of misty island mountains in front of a yellow sunrise/sunset
Thursday, April 13, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Julia Morris (International Studies, UNC Wilmington)

In recent years, countries in the Global North have moved towards outsourcing asylum and border enforcement to frontier territories and regions in the Global South. Drawing on fieldwork in the Republic of Nauru, the world's smallest island nation, Julia Morris discusses the realities of the island's offshore asylum arrangement with Australia and its impact on islanders, workforces, and migrant populations. She explores how this extractive industry is peopled by an ever-shifting cast of refugee lawyers, social workers, clinicians, policy makers, and academics globally and how the very structures of Nauru's colonial phosphate industry and the legacy of the "phosphateer" era made it easy for a new human extractive sector to take root on the island. By detailing the making of and social life of Nauru's asylum system, Morris shows the institutional fabric, discourses, and rhetoric that inform the governance of migration around the world. As similar practices of offshoring and outsourcing asylum have become popular globally, they are enabled by the mobile labor and expertise of transnational refugee industry workers who carry out the necessary daily operations. Morris illuminates how refugee rights activism and #RefugeesWelcome-style movements are caught up in the hardening of border enforcement operations worldwide, calling for freedom of movement that goes beyond adjudicating hierarchies of suffering.

--About the Speaker--
Julia Morris is Assistant Professor of International Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She holds a doctorate in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oxford, where she was also a research student at the University's Centre on Migration, Policy and Society. Previously, she was a Post-doctoral Fellow at The New School's Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility. She is a political anthropologist and migration studies scholar whose research focuses on migration and environmental governance in the Pacific. Her work examines the postcolonial overlaps of resource extractive sectors centered on migrants and commodities, extending to current projects on conservation strategies and multispecies (im)mobilities in Christmas Island and Guatemala.