The shifting frontiers of migration control

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72 Citations (Scopus)


Halfway up the stairs isn’t up and isn’t down.
It isn’t in the nursery.
It isn’t in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts run round my head.
It isn’t really anywhere—it’s somewhere else instead.
A.A. Milne, Halfway Down the Stairs Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered. George Orwell, cited by Stanley Cohen in States of Denial

1. FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND Just after midday on November 4th 2003, a 12-metre fishing boat, the Minasa Bone, carrying 14 Kurdish men, landed on Melville Island, 80 kilometres off the northern coastline of Australia. According to eye witnesses, two of the men waded ashore, scooped handfuls of sand from the beach and asked locals whether they had reached Australia (Morris 2004). When they were told that they had, the men are said to have danced for joy. Their elation was to be short-lived. Local police and fishermen initially attended the scene. In the hours that followed, a navy warship was despatched to escort the Minasa Bone out to sea. An air navigation exclusion zone was declared over the island, preventing the arrival of the press or legal advisors. Customs, immigration and Australian Federal Police officers were flown to the scene. And the Governor-General was summoned from his official duties at Australia’s most celebrated horserace, the Melbourne Cup, to give royal assent to statutory regulations that had been prepared for just such an occasion as this.1 With the stroke of a pen, the official memory of the landing of those men on Australian soil had been erased. The ‘finishing line’, as some newspaper reports put it, had been shifted. The men had never really been in Australia, at least not in any way that could be of benefit to them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBorders, Mobility and Technologies of Control
EditorsSharon Pickering, Leanne Weber
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781402048999
ISBN (Print)9781402048982
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


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