Public event

Shifting borders in the time of Covid-19: A presentation by Ayelet Shachar

The Centre for Fundamental Rights is honoured to welcome Ayelet Shachar for a talk on shifting borders in the time of Covid-19. 

In 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, many predicted that sealed gates would soon become relics of a bygone era. Today, we find a different reality. Instead of disappearing, borders are metamorphosing. The border itself has evolved to become a moving barrier, an unmoored legal construct. It has broken free of the map; it may extend beyond the edge of territories or into their interiors. The pandemic has further accentuated these trends. Defeating expectations, states have engendered a whole new legal cartography of control over borders and movement. No longer a static and immovable barrier, the border has become a mobile, agile, sophisticated, and ever-transforming legal construct—a shifting border, which can be planted and replanted in myriad locations, with dramatic implications for the rights and protections of those falling under its remit. The shifting border is at once multidirectional and slippery, but not the transnational, open and tolerant variant that demise-of-the-state or post-Westphalian theories had foreseen. Instead, a darker orientation has emerged. Far from the dream of a borderless world that emerged after the Berlin Wall came down, today we see not only more border walls but also the rapid proliferation of “movable” legal barriers that may appear anywhere but are applied selectively and unevenly, with a fluctuating degree, intensity, and frequency of regulation. This transformation unsettles assumptions about waning sovereignty, while also revealing the limits of the populist push toward border fortification. It also presents a tremendous opportunity to creatively rethink states’ responsibilities to migrants.

Ayelet Shachar is Professor of Law, Political Science, and Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and the holder of the R.F. Harney Chair in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies at the University of Toronto, where she directs the Harney Program at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. She was Director of the Department of Ethics, Law and Politics of the Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity from 2015 to 2020. She is the author of  The shifting border: Legal cartographies of migration and mobility (Manchester University Press, 2020) Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women’s Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2001, 2009) - winner of the American Political Science Association Foundations of Political Theory Best First Book Award; The Birthright Lottery: Citizenship and Global Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2009) - named 2010 International Ethics Notable Book in recognition of its “superior scholarship and contribution to the field of international ethics;” The Shifting Border: Legal Cartographies of Migration and Mobility (Critical Powers Series, 2020); and the lead editor of the Oxford Handbook of Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2017, 2020) as well as over seventy-five articles and book chapters on citizenship theory, immigration law, multiculturalism and women’s rights, family law and religion in a comparative perspective, highly skilled migration, the shifting border and global inequality.  She is the recipient of excellence awards in four different countries (Canada, Germany, Israel, and the United States), the most recent of which is the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize.

The discussion will be moderated by Cathryn Costello, Professor of Fundamental Rights and Co-Director of the Centre for Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School.

This event is part of the Distinguished Lectures event series hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights.

Prior registration is required. To register please visit the event page on Eventbrite. Registered attendees will receive the dial-in details via e-mail prior to the event.