2019 Abstracts


Dr Gerry O’Reilly

Dr Gerry O’Reilly is Associate Professor in Geography, and International Coordinator for the School of History and Geography, with research and teaching interests in geopolitics, political, economic and cultural geography, sustainable development and education. Modules include: Geopolitics and Humanitarian Action; Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Europe and Spaces of Memory. He obtained his PhD from Durham University, MA from the National University of Ireland (University College Cork), HDipEd and BA, Maynooth University. Post-doctoral research was undertaken in political geography and sustainable development at University College Dublin. Before joining SPC – DCU in 1997, Gerry held lectureship and research posts at UCD, and Universities of Durham, Tunis, and Algeria-Annaba, and Visiting Professorship at the Ohio State University, Columbus. Regarding Humanitarian Action and Geopolitics and as Faculty member of ECHO (EU Humanitarian Office) –  sponsored NOHA (Network on Humanitarian Action), he was Erasmus Mundus Visiting Fellow at the Western Cape University (2009), Toronto York University (2008) and Columbia University NY (2007).

Gerry is Vice President of EUROGEO – EAG (European Association of Geographers); and International Geographical Union, National Representative for the Commission on Population and Vulnerability. Representative for L’Association Comenius and NETT that operate within the EU LLP/ERASMUS framework. Representative on the National Steering Committee of the CGDE: Centre for Global Development through Education (MI-UL); and CHRCE – Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education.

Border Narratives: Geopolitics and Brexit

This paper explores the nexus between concepts of boundaries and territoriality, states and nationalism – economic and romantic-nostalgia constructs, and also international institutions and law in the quest to prevent or attenuate conflict and war, the antithesis of development. In this context, despite its many shortcomings, like the UN, the EU has succeeded in strengthening democracy ideals and institutions, but also in preventing war between EU member states since its inception in the 1950s. This acquis communautaire and long cycle of history cannot be taken for granted, or else run the risk of aggressive nationalism and violent conflict once more. Many geopolitical concepts ranging from territoriality, boundaries and borders to nationalism are mirrored in the UK’s Brexit experiences and the consequences of such on populations not only in the UK but also Ireland and Gibraltar.

Dr Joseph Garcia MP, Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar

Author of: Gibraltar: The Making of a People, Gibraltar: Mediterranean SUN Publishing Co. Ltd, 1994.

  • Deputy Chief Minister: working in close partnership with the Chief Minister in his exercise of overall responsibility for and supervision of Government Departments and public administration
  • Ministerial co-ordination & Manifesto implementation
  • “Brexit” work related to the United Kingdom’s planned departure from the European Union
  • European affairs
  • International political lobbying
  • Responsibility for Gibraltar representative offices abroad
  • The promotion of the right to Self-Determination and liaison with the United Nations
  • Political, democratic and civic reform
  • Lands and Government Projects
  • Civil aviation
  • Information
  • The administration of Government Departments charged with the aforesaid

Dr Roberto Savio

Dr Roberto Savio is an Italian Argentinean economist, who specialized in international relations. He used information and communication as a tool, creating Inter Press Service on 1964, the fifth largest international news agency, dedicated to development and North-South relations. He has been Secretary General of the Society for International Development (SID). He is the deputy director of the World Political Forum, created by Gorbachev, and he is one of the founders of the World Social Forum. He created the Technological Information Project System, with UNDP. He has served in 12 governments of Africa and Latin America, and in several agencies of the UN system. He is a recipient of the Hiroshima Peace Award, and several others for his work as an activist. He is now working on the issue of global governance, and he has created an information service on global issue, Othernews.

Do Borders Represent Nationalism? The Roots of the Crisis of Multilateralism

Borders have become again a question of identity after the big economic crisis of 2008. Sovranist parties sprung everywhere, and changed the European scene (and of several countries in the world, from Brazil to US, from India to Japan). Under sovranism, borders took a new dimension, has been disappearing from the political debate? Why, from the notion of nation, we have gone to nationalism, a flag that brought us to two world conflicts? Nation is a valid concept, but nationalism? The Brexit case a symbolic example…Democracy, can keep under control sovranism?

We need today global governance, when finance and technology have gone global. Is that viable in a world of nationalism? The UN, from a place for debate and international agreements, has become a dignified Red Cross, dealing with health, children migrants, climate and other social and cultural causes, which have no teeth in the international arena…

Let us exam how today borders should be seen as elements of dialogue and cooperation among different historical and cultural realities, not walls to restrict movement of people and goods. Trade is a vital element for economy, and production of goods and services by people, unlike the abstract casino of finance.

Dr Matthew Benwell

Dr Matthew Benwell is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Newcastle University. He has interests in critical and feminist geopolitics and, more specifically, his research explores how geopolitical events are engaged and experienced by children and young people in their everyday lives. He has regional specialisms in the Southern Cone (predominantly Argentina, Chile and the Falklands Islands) and Antarctica and has a particular interest in the practices and performances of governance and diplomacy by (young) citizens and states-people in British Overseas Territories such as the Falklands and Gibraltar.

Bringing the Falklands/Malvinas Home: Young People’s Everyday Engagements with Geopolitics in Domestic Space

This paper draws on emerging debates in feminist and everyday geopolitics to focus on the relatively neglected domestic sphere as a space where geopolitical events like the Falklands/Malvinas war are learnt, (re)produced, remembered and contested by young people. In so doing it considers domestic space, familial relations and genealogies as neglected elements in the production and reinforcement of geopolitical and biopolitical borders. It presents qualitative data drawn from interviews with young people from Argentina (Río Gallegos) and the Falkland Islands (Stanley), locations with intimate connections to the 1982 war. It argues that research in domestic environments that engages the familial relations, objects and practices that embody geopolitical pasts can help make sense of how geopolitical divides are reproduced, as well as how they might be challenged. These domestic relations also reveal how young people (are able to) express geopolitical agency about the ongoing sovereignty dispute.

Sergio Del Molino

Sergio Del Molino (Madrid, 1979) es escritor y periodista. Premio Ojo Crítico y Tigre Juan, entre otros, por La hora violeta (2013), es autor también de las novelas Lo que a nadie le importa (2014) y No habrá mas enemigo (2012). Su ensayo La España vacía (2016) se convirtió en un fenómeno editorial y abrió un debate social, cultural y político inédito en España. Además, recibió el Premio de los Libreros de Madrid al Mejor Ensayo y el Premio Cálamo al Libro del Ano, y fue reconocido como uno de los diez mejores libros de 2016 en España por la inmensa mayoría de la prensa. Colabora en diversos medios de comunicación, como El País, Cadena Ser, Onda Cero, Mercurio o Eñe.

Dr Ben Hayes

Dr Ben Hayes is an activist and researcher who has specialised in counter-terrorism, international security, border control, human rights and applied ethics. He is a Fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam (https://www.tni.org/) and has a PhD from the University of Ulster (Derry/Londonderry). Over the past 20 years he has worked for a range of human rights and civil liberties organisations including the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, Statewatch, the Peace Research Institute Oslo and the Open Society Foundations. He has worked for international organisations including the European Commission, European Research Council and UN Refugee Agency. He currently works as a legal advisor to the International Committee of the Red Cross. He will be speaking

From Crimes of Arrival to Crimes of Departure: 30 Years at the Edge of “Fortress Europe”

When the history of “Fortress Europe” is written, the Strait of Gibraltar occupies a critical place. It was one of the first ‘European’ border “hot spots”, one of the first places where military technology was deployed to prevent the arrival of migrants and refugees, and one of the first places where fencing people in became a key tenet of EU migration control. Amid the high stakes of Brexit, Ben Hayes will discuss the evolution of the EU border regime in the context of “taking back control”.

Susann Simolin

Susann Simolin, MA in political science and a BA in journalism, is Head of Information at the Ålands Islands Peace Institute and works with information, research as well as seminar and project management. Her core research interests are autonomies in multi-level governance systems, the usage of examples in international conflict resolution and the construction of identities. In 2018 she published the peer reviewed article “The aims of Åland and Finland regarding a new act on the Autonomy of Åland: An analysis of three parliamentary committee reports” and a report in Swedish evaluating the first 20 years of the work of the Contact group between the Foreign Ministry of Finland and the Government of Åland. She is currently working on a study of the usage of the Åland case – an autonomous, demilitarised, neutralised, and Swedish-speaking region in Finland – as an example of peaceful conflict resolution in international contexts.

The Åland Islands – Borders and Boundaries

While the Åland Islands have long remained where they are, located between Finland and Sweden, and whilethe population has mainly kept its Swedish language and culture, the location and functionalities of the borders around the islands, as well as the citizenship of the islanders and the linguistic minority-majority constellations in the states surrounding it, have shifted. When Åland – together with Finland – became part of Russia in 1809, the western border of Åland became a national border to Sweden, rather than as previously, a merely administrative border within the Swedish kingdom. In 1856, the Åland Islands were demilitarised, why it was necessary to define borders of the demilitarised zone. In the early 1900’s, borders around Åland again gained new meaning, when Finland gained independence and the islands were given autonomous status. More recently, in an era of post-sovereignty and globalization, what once used to be – at least in theory – clear borders between the domestic and the international level, is today characterized by ‘blurred’ boundaries, multi-level governanace and spatial rescaling: systems and identities migrate from the state to new levels, both upwards – for example to the EU – and downwards. Such processes affect both Finland, Åland and the relationship between the entities.Departing from historical and contemporary processes which have shaped and continue to shape borders and boundaries related to the Åland Island, the presentation will discuss how the location and functionality of borders and boundaries around Åland is related to and has effects for, among others, the division and overlaps of powers and the relationship between the autonomy and the state, the use and restriction of use of military force, the protection of language and culture as well as perceptions of identities.

Dr Alasdair Pinkerton

Dr Alasdair Pinkerton is a Reader in Geopolitics at Royal Holloway University of London, with particular interests in soft power, narratives, and the geopolitics of heritage with particular focus on the South Atlantic (Falkland Islands, Argentina and Chile), Cyprus, and British Overseas Territories.

He co-leads a large multi-year project investigating the emergence of No-Man’s Land as a concept/space around the world – a project that has involved a Royal Geographical Society-sponsored expedition “Into No Man’s Land” (2015) and the launch “Portraits of No Man’s Land” on Google Arts and Culture (2019). He is co-editor of the Handbook of Displacement (Palgrave, 2020) and the Companion to Development Studies (Fourth Edition). Alasdair is the author of Radio: making waves in sound (Reaktion 2019), an interdisciplinary exploration of the history, geography and cultures of radio, published in collaboration with the Science Museum.

Re-Inhabiting No-Man’s Land: From Dead Zones to Living Spaces

Few spaces have come to emblemize the First World War as readily as the No-Man’s Land. With its origins in medieval England to describe disputed territories between fiefdoms, ‘no-man’s land’ is now most readily associated with the materially-decimated tract of earth that divided British and German trenches during the First World War. But the story of no-man’s land neither begins nor ends in the conflict of 1914-18. Mechanised war and subsequent ‘diplomatic’ resolutions have created a variety of no-man’s lands, from demilitarized zones to unclaimed and contested border regions. Other areas have been condemned as no-man’s lands because of environmental disasters and ruination. While no-man’s land is often associated with death and destruction, they are, importantly, living spaces filled with human life and potential. Drawing on research in Cyprus, France, Colombia, the Middle East and Gibraltar, this paper explores a conceptual framework and case studies that address the genealogies, agendas and intellectual import of no-man’s lands in the 21st century.

Dr Kate Coddington

Dr Kate Coddington is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University at Albany. She researches approaches to public policy dealing with migrants and postcolonial governance that influence processes of bordering and citizenship. Current research involves exploring the role of public information campaigns in border enforcement, the gaps in refugee governance in the Asia-Pacific region and the role of impoverishment and destitution in migration control policies. Recent work on refugees and border enforcement in the Asia-Pacific region has been published in Geographical Review, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Political Geography and in edited collections including Handbook on Critical Geographies of Migration (Edward Elgar Press) and Territory Beyond Terra (Rowman & Littlefield International).

The Production of Transit Space as Border Enforcement: Migrant Deterrence in Thailand

The space of the ‘transit country’ is increasingly depicted in policy and NGO rhetoric as a taken-for-granted space where migrants pass through on their way to seek protection in the Global North. Transit countries are often depicted as external to or detracting from mechanisms of border enforcement, yet I argue that the ‘transit country’ is a contested space, a space where ‘temporariness’ is produced purposefully as a mechanism of border enforcement. Using Thailand as a case study, I explore how the production of the ‘transit country’ is a means of managing and controlling refugee and asylum seeker populations.

Through several discursive and material tactics, including security spectacles, rumors and soft laws that incapacitate advocates, and migrant destitution, Thailand maintains and exploits the status of a ‘transit country.’ The purposeful construction of a place where ‘no one will stay’ challenges depictions of migration as linear movements defined by borders, sources and destinations, where transit spaces exist as obstacles to the orderly management of migration. Furthermore, the case of Thailand stresses how the concept of the ‘transit country’ has political and material consequences for places beyond the European context, particularly in a changing global refugee context where chances of permanent resettlement are ever slimmer.

Bengt Göran Lindholm

  • Born:  December 21, 1955
  • Education:  LLB Uppsala University, Sweden, 1980
  • Present:  Åland Mutual Insurance Company, Chairman 2016 –

Working experience

  • Åland Mutual Insurance Company, CEO 1999 – 2015
  • Åland Mutual Insurance Company, Head of Claims Department 1987 – 1999
  • Åland Government, Director of Administration 1983 – 1987
  • Åland Parliament, Legal Director 1982
  • University of Bergen, Norway, Junior Research Fellow in Public International Law 1981
  • Åland Government, Lawdrafting board 1979 – 1980

Other – Hungarian Honorary Consul-General

  1. Short introduction.
  2. Historical background of the Åland Autonomy (As most other autonomies and small states it is a historic anomaly which still affects today’s relation to Finland).
  3. The constitutional and public international legal set up.
  4. The relation to the EU, sit at the same table as Finland in the EU Council, not member of the taxunion, due to the tax free traffic Sweden – Åland – Finland.
  5. Border and customs control towards Finland and Sweden, respectively. Free working-flow between our Nordic countries since 1954.
  6. The EU membership, pros and cons for different stakeholders but overall positive.
  7. As the knowledge of Swedish language is diminishing in Finland cultural, educational and many other contacts goes to Sweden. Stockholm is our cultural capital.

Gun-Mari Lindholm

  • Born:  March 29th, 1962
  • Domicile:  Kumlinge
  • Education:   Public Health Nurse, University of Helsinki
  • Profession:  Nurse
  • Political Party:  Moderate Coalition for Åland (MCÅ) 
  • Political career:  Member of the Åland Parliament 1999-2011, 2015-
  • Deputy Speaker 2007-2011
  • BSPC 2009-2011
  • Speaker 2017-
  • Member of the Municipal Executive Committee of Lemland 1991-1999
  • Member of the Municipal Assembly of Lemland 1999-   2007
  • Chair of the Municipal Assembly of Lemland 2007-2011
  • Member of the Committee on Health and Medical Service 1996-
  • Chair of the Obunden samling (Independents) 2001- 2013
  • Member of the Åland Government 2003-2005
  • Responsible for the Department for Social- and Environmental Issues
  • Member of the Åland Government 2011- 2015
  • Responsible for the Department for Administrative Affairs
  • Chair of the Municipal Executive Committee of Kumlinge 2016-

Noelle Molton

Noelle Molton is a development professional currently based in Malawi where she works for the consultancy Charlie Goldsmith Associates supporting education and social protection programmes. Prior to this, she was based in Northern France where she helped established a short-term crisis response charity, Fuelling Relief, which worked to support refugee communities in Calais and Dunkirk between 2016 and 2017. It was this experience that motivated her Master’s studies in International Relations at Cambridge, where she wrote her thesis on the Calais border and the impact that migratory pressures have had in shaping it over the past three decades.

Building Borders, Breaking Borders: the Impact of Migratory Pressures on UK Bordering Policies in Calais Between 1994 and 2018.

Between the creation of the Channel Tunnel in 1994, and the height of the so-called ‘migrant crisis’ in 2015, the border in Calais was subjected to waves of unprecedented migratory pressure and experienced periods of dramatic change as a result. This study will assess the impact of migratory pressures on the Anglo-French border in Calais through the exploration of three key periods, highlighting the gradual transformation of the border from a symbol of openness and connection to a hard border designed to repel those who would seek to subvert it. This study explores Britain’s political securitization of both border and migration issues to justify increasingly hostile bordering methods which resulted in the extension of bordering practices beyond a physical line of demarcation into a wider, and less defined, ‘border zone’ within Calais itself. Ultimately, this study finds that migratory pressures in Calais resulted in a transformation of border symbolism, form and function. It also identifies an inherent ambiguity at the heart of the securitization process as evidence suggests that far from reducing the ‘threat’ to the integrity of the border, harsher bordering methods provoked deeper desperation in those seeking to traverse it irregularly and contributed to acts of bordering violence in Calais. These findings beg the question: who or what was ultimately rendered more secure by securitization acts in Calais?

Cathal McCall

Cathal McCall is a senior research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast. His key research interest is the relationship between border reconfiguration and conflict transformation within and beyond the European Union.

Dr Jamie Trinidad

Dr Jamie Trinidad is a Gibraltarian lawyer. He is a Fellow, Tutor and Director of Studies in Law at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, a Fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law and a practising barrister. His publications include Self-Determination in Disputed Colonial Territories (Cambridge University Press 2018), which has been cited in the International Court of Justice; co-edited books on The Future of International Courts: Regional, Institutional and Procedural Challenges (Routledge 2019) and Decolonization and the International Court of Justice: New Directions from the Chagos Advisory Opinion (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2020); and numerous articles, including a 50-page article in the 2015 British Yearbook of International Law entitled ‘The Disputed Waters Around Gibraltar’. He is a member of the Bars of England and Wales (2001) and Gibraltar (2005), and in that capacity advises and represents governments, institutions and individuals, mainly on questions of international, European and public law. He has for several years been the Gibraltar Government’s principal advisor on international law matters. He is a consultant at Isolas (Gibraltar’s oldest law firm) and a door tenant at 7 Bedford Row, London. He is a graduate of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Gibraltar’s Boundaries

Gibraltar’s land and sea boundaries have shifted significantly during three centuries of British rule. The current land border was established following a series of encroachments by Britain on the isthmus to the north of Gibraltar’s fortifications, and became a permanent fixture in the early 20th century. Spain claims the British presence on the isthmus is unlawful, and refers to the border as ‘la verja’ (‘the fence’).

The extent of British control over the maritime space around Gibraltar has also fluctuated. For over 250 years, Britain controlled an anchorage ground to the north-west of the isthmus that washed onto a stretch of Spanish coastline. It was not until 1968 that Britain withdrew from this northern anchorage and began to assert a territorial sea of three nautical miles around Gibraltar in accordance with the equidistance (or ‘median line’) principle. Spain maintains that Gibraltar is not entitled to any waters beyond the internal waters of its port.

Gibraltar’s boundaries have been the subject of constant controversy over the last 300 years. My talk will explore some of the legal, political and emotional aspects of this controversy, especially in the contexts of the 1969 border closure and Brexit.

Jason Dittmer

Jason Dittmer is Professor of Political Geography at University College London. His interests lie in materiality and geopolitics. He is the author of Diplomatic Material: Affect, assemblage, and foreign policy (Duke, 2017) as well as several other works. His current research focused on Gibraltar as a lens through which to explore the role of materiality in world politics.

The Brexit Interval and its Effect on Gibraltarians’ Expectations of Governmental Agency

This article highlights both over-reliance on legal perspectives in the study of paradiplomacy at the expense of more dynamic understandings of agency, and also the affective force of waiting and other temporal states on political subject formation. Empirically, we report the results of a longitudinal study on Gibraltarians’ concerns over the Gibraltar-Spain frontier. By comparing data from two identical surveys conducted a year apart during the period between the Brexit referendum and the (as yet incomplete) legal withdrawal, we trace the force of the incomplete event on political subjectivities. Conceptualising our findings through assemblage theory and paradiplomacy, we highlight that the intensity of the event has heightened Gibraltarians’ dissatisfaction with their constitutional reliance on the UK to resolve Brexit in a way advantageous for Gibraltar. A minor shift occurred in the year studied towards more agentic proscriptions of what the Government of Gibraltar ought to do to resolve Brexit. Quantitative analysis reveals that younger respondents tend to emphasise this more agentic view, while older respondents tend to advocate further lobbying of the UK or feel Gibraltar has a complete lack of agency. Qualitative analysis of the respondents’ policy proscriptions reveals a complex set of views within each perspective on agency.

Dr Jennifer Ballantine Perera

Dr Jennifer Ballantine Perera, the Director of the Gibraltar Garrison Library and Director of the Institute for Gibraltar and Mediterranean Studies of the University of Gibraltar. Together with the University of Essex, she has completed work on an ESRC funded project; Bordering on Britishness:  An Oral History of Gibraltar in the 20th Century and on an EU funded project; ‘The Encyclopaedia of Migrants’ alongside EU partners. She was previously based at Lancaster University where she formed part of a major research project, headed by Professor Martin Blinkhorn and Professor Stephen Constantine on Gibraltar. She has published articles on the permit system in place in Gibraltar during the 19th century, on the Royal Calpe Hunt and on the development of a civilian population on the Rock.

Borders of Empire: Past and Present

This paper takes the closure of the border with Gibraltar in 1969 as a point of departure to engage not only with the events leading up to this closure but with the wider concept of imagined geographies as underpinned by Edward Said.  His notion of imagined geographies offers a paradigm which takes us beyond the immediate footprint of Gibraltar to engage with the wider perception of space and borders, one informed through policies from the metropolis and discourse.  The aim is to discuss Gibraltar during the 1960s as part of a colonially conceived imagined geography of the Mediterranean and at a time during which Aden Colony and Malta are at the cusp of being decolonised, decisions, I will be suggesting, that come to bear on Gibraltar’s strategic positioning and indeed, attempts to push back on Spain’s territorial claim of Gibraltar. The larger question will be whether the idea of Gibraltar as part of an imagined community remains in place in a Brexit informed 21st century.