IO COVID-19 Online Supplemental Issue, Borders, Power & Security Beth Simmons writes on ‘Pandemic Responses as Border Politics’

August 28, 2020
By Penn Law | Penn Today

"Pandemic Responses as Border Politics," co-written by Beth A. Simmons, Andrea Mitchell University Professor in Law, Political Science and Business Ethics, with additional appointments in the School of Arts & Sciences and Wharton, and Michael R. Kenwick, assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University, was recently published in International Organization by the Cambridge University Press. Professor Simmons is a faculty affiliate of Perry World House, running the Borders and Boundaries Project with Professor Kenwick, who was a PWH Postdoctoral Fellow in 2018-19.

n the article, which is part of a special online supplemental issue on COVID-19 and international relations supported by Penn’s Perry World House, Simmons and Kenwick argue that [p]andemics are imbued with the politics of bordering,” and the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, “reflects growing anxieties about border security in the modern international system.”

Coronavirus has made it “convenient for governments to ‘contain’ the virus by externalizing it,” the authors write, “rather than taking costly but ultimately more effective domestic mitigation measures.” Such policies are “not driven by any clear scientific consensus about their utility in the face of myriad pandemic threats.” Instead, “we show they are influenced by public opinion and preexisting commitments to invest in the symbols and structures of state efforts to control their borders, a concept we call ‘border orientation,’” write Simmons and Kenwick.

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