Migration and border studies have reconceptualized and examined borders as sites of contestation, stressing the productive effects of (illegalized) migration control on established notions of citizenship. These accounts have predominantly focused on illegalized migration and on contemporary contestations around these mobilities. This article expands these efforts by suggesting that migration control and contestations (and the limits thereof) can be understood only by considering the dynamic yet historically and geographically specific modes of any given border, which I aim to capture through the concept of regime of bordering. This concept refers to the fact that contemporary borders against illegalized migration are founded on pre-existing regimes of citizenship, bilateral relations, and migration. My historically informed ethnographic research on both sides of the Greek–Turkish border in Thrace demonstrates the continuing impact of unresolved bilateral disputes and centralized state power in a highly militarized region to align state and nonstate actors with migration control at an “external border” of the EU. Studying politics of migration control from a long durée perspective and as part of a composite regime of bordering takes us beyond a “presentist” view on recent contestations around illegalized migration, deepening our understanding of (the lack of) local acts of citizenship.
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or
publication of this article: The article is based primarily on the data collected as part of my PhD
fieldwork, funded by CES Columbia University (2013 Pre-Dissertation Fellowship) and Oxford
University Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies (2013–2014 studentship).
Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2022.