Paulina Ochoa Espejo, On Borders: Territories, Legitimacy, and the Rights of Place – Oxford University Press, August 2020 [updated with link to discussion and an open access excerpt]

Update: there is a discussion on the New Books podcast, and Chapter 4 is available open access.

Progressive Geographies

9780190074197Paulina Ochoa Espejo, On Borders: Territories, Legitimacy, and the Rights of Place – Oxford University Press, August 2020

When are borders justified? Who has a right to control them? Where should they be drawn?

Today people think of borders as an island’s shores. Just as beaches delimit a castaway’s realm, so borders define the edges of a territory, occupied by a unified people, to whom the land legitimately belongs. Hence a territory is legitimate only if it belongs to a people unified by a civic identity. Sadly, this Desert Island Model of territorial politics forces us to choose. If we want territories, then we can either have democratic legitimacy, or inclusion of different civic identities—but not both. The resulting politics creates mass xenophobia, migrant-bashing, hoarding of natural resources, and border walls.

To escape all this, On Borders presents an alternative model. Drawing on an intellectual tradition concerned with how land and…

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