Picture of Alison Mountz

Dr. Alison Mountz is Professor of Geography and Canada Research Chair in Global Migration. She is Director of the International Migration Research Centre and co-edits a journal called Politics & Space (Environment & Planning C). She is cross-appointed between the School of International Policy and Governance and the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Before moving to Laurier, Mountz was based at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs for eight years. She also spent two years at Harvard University’s Canada Program, most recently as the 2015-2016 Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies.

Much of Mountz’s work explores how people cross borders and access migration and asylum policies. She studies the tension between the decisions, displacements, and desires that drive human migration and the policies and practices designed to ‘manage’ migration. Her recent research examines border enforcement, asylum, and detention on islands. Her work has been funded by the John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation, the Canadian Embassy, the National Science Foundation, and Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Mountz is currently working on SSHRC-funded projects on the use of big data to better understand human displacement and on US war resister migration to Canada. The latter project involves oral history and archival research with Vietnam and Iraq era resisters. The research team has embarked on an archiving project with the War Resister Campaign, and Mountz is collaborating to make a documentary film that weaves together these two generations and histories of US war resisters in Canada.

In 2010 Mountz published Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border (University of Minnesota Press). This monograph shows how Canada and other countries respond to human smuggling. She has two new monographs forthcoming: The Enforcement Archipelago: Hidden Geographies and the Death of Asylum (Minnesota) and Boats, Borders, and Bases: Race, the Cold War, and the Rise of Migration Detention in the United States (with Dr. Jenna Loyd, University of California Press). The first explores offshore interception and detention and the erosion of access to political asylum. The second documents the geographical development of the US detention system, understood through the racialized history of US interception of migrant ships in the Caribbean.

Dr. Mountz teaches courses and advises students researching migration and working in the fields of political, urban, and feminist geography, and international public policy and global governance.

Academic / Professional Awards

  • Inducted Member, College of the Royal Society of Canada, 2016
  • Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Global Migration, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2016
  • William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, 2015-2016
  • Inducted Fellow, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, 2012
  • Meridian Book Prize from the Association of American Geographers for Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border, 2011
  • Stanley D. Brunn Young Scholar Award from the Association of American Geographers’ Specialty group in Political Geography, 2010
  • Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Award, Syracuse University, 2009
  • Faculty & Staff Inspiration Award, Syracuse University, 2006
  • Chancellor’s Award for Public Service, Syracuse University, 2006
  • Director, International Migration Research Centre • Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Migration Geography
  • Wilfrid Laurier University [at Harvard University for AY 2015-2016]

  • Office: BSIA 248

  • (226) 772-3143

Global Justice and Human Rights
Migration, Mobilities, and Social Politics
  • PhD, University of British Columbia, 2003
  • MA, Hunter College-CUNY, 1998
  • BA, Dartmouth College, 1995

Select Publications

  • Maillet, P, A Mountz, K Williams. 2018. “Exclusion through imperio: entanglements of law and geography in the waiting zone, excised territory and search and rescue region.” Social & Legal Studies.
  • Mountz, A. 2017. “Island detention: affective eruption as trauma’s disruption.” Emotion, Space and Society 24: 74-82.
  • Maillet, P, A Mountz, K Williams. 2016. “Researching detention, asylum-seeking, and unauthorized migration: the challenges of, and limits to, field work in confined locations and wide-open spaces.” Social and Cultural Geographies 18(7): 927-950.
  • Loyd, J, E Mitchell-Eaton, A Mountz. 2016. “The militarization of islands and migration: tracing human mobility through US bases in the Caribbean and the Pacific.” Political Geography 53: 65-75.
  • Mountz, A. 2015. “In/visibility and the securitization of migration: shaping publics through border enforcement on islands.” Cultural Politics 11(2): 184-200.
  • Mountz, A. 2014. “Political Geography II: Islands and Archipelagos.” Progress in Human Geography 39(5): 636-646.
  • Mountz, A & J Loyd. 2014. “Constructing the Mediterranean region: obscuring violence in the bordering of Europe’s migration ‘crises.’” ACME, International E-Journal for Critical Geographies. 13(2): 173-195.
  • Mountz, A. 2013. “Shrinking spaces of asylum: vanishing points where geography is used to inhibit access to asylum.” Australian Journal of Human Rights 19(3): 29-50.
  • Ashutosh, I & A Mountz. 2012. “The geopolitics of migrant mobility: tracing state relations through refugee claims, boats, and discourses.” Geopolitics 17(2): 335-354.
  • Mountz, A. 2011. “The enforcement archipelago: detention, haunting, and asylum on islands.” Political Geography 30(3): 118-128.
  • Mountz, A. 2010. Seeking asylum: human smuggling and bureaucracy at the border. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

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