Annual Conference

The Future of Borders – April 23-24, 2024 – Boston, MA

Register for this year’s annual conference HERE.


Day One – 4/23/2024 – 665 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 1750

8:30 – 9 am Registration and Welcome Breakfast
9 – 9:15 am Opening Remarks
9:15 – 10:45 am Panel One: Transformations of Identity and Belonging
10:45 – 11 am Coffee Break
11 am – 12 pm Workshop: Public Writing and Engagement
12 – 1 pm Lunch; Affiliate Faculty Book Exhibition; Art Performance
1 – 2 pm Workshop: Engaging Community Collaborators
2:15 – 4:15 pm Keynote Lecture and Panel Conversation: T. Alexander Aleinikoff
4:15 – 4:30 pm Coffee Break
4:30 – 6:30 pm Suitcase Stories and Reception with food and mingling to follow


Day Two – 4/24/2024 – 91 Bay State Road, Room 101

8:30 – 9 am Registration and Welcome Breakfast
9 – 10:30 am Panel Two: Weaponization of Border Technologies
10:30 – 10:45 am Coffee Break
10:45 – 12:15 pm Panel Three: No Futures, No Borders
12:15 – 1 pm Lunch; Magazine Launch
12 – 1 pm Lunch; Affiliate Faculty Book Exhibition
1 – 1:45 pm Student Poster Presentations
1:45 – 4:15 pm Panel Four: Curating the Border (to be preceded by art showcase)
4:15 pm Closing Remarks


Keynote, Panels, and Workshops

Keynote Presentation

T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Dean of The New School for Social Research, Director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility

The keynote address and ensuing panel will analyze the future of the international protection regime for forced migrants. Keynote speaker Dr. Alex Aleinikoff will argue for a reformulation of the international protection regime away from the current focus on refugee persecution and the right of non-refoulement, toward one grounded in a right not to be displaced — a shift that will better protect the internally displaced and those displaced due to climate change. The talk will be followed by a moderated panel conversation on the future of refugee protection and the broader theme of the conference — the future of borders. 


Robin Celikates – Professor of Social Philosophy and Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin

Serena Parekh – Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Northeastern University

Jacqueline BhabhaProfessor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard University


Noora Lori – Associate Professor of International Relations, Boston University


Panel One: Transformations of Identity and Belonging

In this panel discussion, we will discuss how borders are agents of transformation that shape migrant identities in overt and covert ways. While the state codifies belonging through citizenship and visa regimes, we also acknowledge belonging as a subversive process to be defined and interpreted by migrants.


Rachel Nolan – Assistant Professor of International History, Boston University

Van Tran – Associate Professor of Sociology and International Migration Studies, City University of New York

Stellan Vinthagen – Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Marina Lazetic – Director of Programs at Center on Forced Displacement, Boston University

Selma Hedlund – Postdoctoral Associate at Center on Forced Displacement, Boston University

Panel Two: Weaponization of Border Technologies

New technologies, from facial recognition to drones, biometrics to digital surveillance apps, are having a tremendous impact on the lives of migrants and forcibly displaced persons. The development, deployment, use and abuse of these technologies by public and private institutions is an important, and often under appreciated area of discussion in the broader discourse on migration and borders. This panel will bring together lawyers, scholars, practitioners and technology experts who will discuss the nature, structure and type of various technologies at the border, the ethics of technology use and its impact in the near and distant future as it relates to migrants and forcibly displaced persons.


Niamh Kinchin – Associate Professor of Law, University of Wollongong

Petra Molnar – Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

Allison McDonald – Assistant Professor of Computing & Data Sciences, Boston University


Micah Trautmann – Postdoctoral Associate at Center on Forced Displacement, Boston University

Panel Three: No Futures, No Borders

This panel conversation explores the future of borders and borderlands as extensions of the carceral state. A conference like ours on “The Future of Borders” would fail, in our opinion, without a session that explores abolitionist ideas related to no borders, possibly with a critique of our tendency to think teleologically about futures. We are calling this discussion “No Futures, No Borders.” We hope that this panel will be provocative and wide-ranging, focused on conversation, and open to imaginative, even speculative approaches to the topic that do not adhere to the system(s) currently in place.


Sarah Sherman-Stokes – Clinical Associate Professor of Law, Boston University

Philippe Copeland – Clinical Associate Professor of Social Work, Boston University

David Glovsky – Assistant Professor of History, Boston University

Ianna Hawkins Owen – Assistant Professor of English and African American and Black Diaspora Studies, Boston University

Adam Israel – Adjunct Faculty of Philosophy, Adelphi University


Carrie Preston – Associate Director at Center on Forced Displacement, Boston University

Panel Four: Curating the Border (preceded by art showcase)

Our exploration of “The Future of Borders” concludes with the creativity of artists working in different media who in engage borderlands and their futures.


Leo Eguchi

Boston-based cellist Leo Eguchi presents: “UNACCOMPANIED,” a performance featuring eight short new works for solo cello that explore personal stories of immigration and American identity. Each of the commissioned works is by immigrant and first-generation American composers tasked with tackling the question, “What does your American-ness sound like?”

Sara Jordenö and Avery Horning Ruf, with Dante Gonzalez

A filmmaker and a social scientist bonds with and listens to Aresh, a young man from Afghanistan. After arriving in the “wave” of unaccompanied minors in Northern Europe in 2015, Aresh is now moving from one European country to the next desperately trying to avoid deportation. His status is, with Achille Mbembe, that of the living-dead. One day he disappears. To be able to process the experiences shared with them, and to understand their own position as witnesses and listeners to Aresh’s trauma, the director and researcher asks an actor, Dante Gonzalez, to embody Aresh. They stage a series of conversations with Dante-as-Aresh and document how the shifting border manifests itself in Massachusetts and New York. Trauma theorists argue that if a trauma has not been truly witnessed or listened to, it exists in a non-space, as a form of unclaimed experience. The listener, therefore, is a party to the creation of knowledge de novo, and can be likened to “the blank screen on which the event comes to be inscribed for the first time” (Laub, 1992). With this project, we explore the space of Aresh’s acts of testimony and our acts of listening, by creating a precarious record in the form of a postrealist, non-fiction/fiction hybrid, conceptually framed, process film.

Corinne Whittemore and Paul Valadez

Dreams in Spanish is a collaboration between two border artists. As a visual conversation, it goes beyond aesthetics and explores the dualities of border life and culture through experimentation with media, language and the process of translation and communication.

Joanna Zielińska-Öktem

Dr. Joanna Zielińska-Öktem holds a PhD from Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, she has a background in performance studies, philosophy, and theater studies.Her PhD research was conducted in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her relationship with the city took the shape of PhD dissertation and artistic dwelling, culminating in a PhD thesis, numbers of articles, cooperation with Sarajevo War Theatre, multidisciplinary project Sarajevo Mind Map, documentary film Sarajevo Femme Fatale and other small scale projects.

The focus of “(border)line disorder” revolves around the Inter-entity Boundary Line (IEBL) which represents the intricate aftermath of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. Through the lens of the camera, archival materials and memories of Sarajevians from both sides of the boundary, I perform specific vivisection of particular places located along the IEBL. I specifically selected places that have played a significant role in shaping local identity, including sites of memory, facilities constructed for the 1984 Winter Olympics, public and international establishments, as well as everyday spaces such as streets, squares, and residential buildings that have been divided by the IEBL since 1995. The objective is to allow these places and the unique ecosystems that developed around them to narrate not only the present state of social and political (no)reconciliation in Bosnia but also to shed light on the deeper identity, political, social, and ecological issues associated with boundaries, divisions, and borders.


Carrie Preston – Associate Director at Center on Forced Displacement, Boston University


Workshop: Public Writing and Engagement

In this interactive workshop, participants will explore public writing as an opportunity to extend the reach of their work on forced displacement to new audiences. We will focus in particular on the op-ed because of its accessibility and potential for impact. Through a series of writing activities, participants will review features of op-eds and identify their own areas of academic expertise and lived experience. By the end of the hour, all workshop participants will have the start of an op-ed and a cache of resources for bringing their perspectives to public audiences. This workshop is open to everyone, both experts and non-experts.


Gwen Kordonowy – Master Lecturer & Associate Director of Writing Program, Boston University

Gavin Benke – Senior Lecturer of Writing Program, Boston University

Marisa Milanese – Master Lecturer of Writing Program, Boston University

Workshop: Engaging Community Collaborators

If the engagement of community collaborators is a priority or interest, then this workshop is for you! Furthermore, if you have had experiences—successful, unsuccessful, or hard to categorize—with community collaborations, then this workshop is for you. We will use two Participatory Action Research (PAR) tools. The first is called the Problem/Solution Tree (aka Problem/Means & Ends Tree); the second is called the Stakeholders’ Rainbow. Each tool has been used in many community-based projects.


Lory Dance – Associate Professor of Sociology & Ethnic Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Selma Hedlund – Postdoctoral Associate at Center on Forced Displacement, Boston University