Amy Reed-Sandoval, Feminism and the Open Borders Debate (Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers)

Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers


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Feminism and the Open Borders Debate

The motivating question of the open borders debate–namely, do states have a prima facie right to maintain coercive borders and restrict immigration into their territories?–has not been taken up from an explicitly feminist perspective, and this presents difficulties for understanding the complex relationships between borders and gender justice. I argue that there are many reasons for this, among them a reluctance on the part of many feminist and decolonial scholars to present their ethical positions in universal terms. In this paper, I begin to develop a universal border ethic that, I argue, helps us to consider the open borders debate from a feminist, decolonial perspective. First, I explore a series of important, possible objections feminists may make to the framing of the open borders debate. Second, I respond to these objections by recasting the open borders debate in terms of what Serene Khader has called “non-ideal universalism” in her recent book, Decolonizing Universalism. Reframed in this way, I argue that immigration ethicists should not argue for a bordered or borderless world as an idealized end-state. Rather, we should explore the complicated relationship between borders and oppression. In so doing, we should consider established open borders debate arguments not as universally-applicable theories, but rather, as possible policy goals that may, or may not, reduce oppression in particular contexts.

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Amy Reed-Sandoval
Philosophy                                                                  University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Mon, Nov 13, 2023
04:00 PM - 06:00 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
200 Larkin