Alison Mountz

Dr. Alison Mountz is Professor of Geography and Canada Research Chair in Global Migration. She is affiliated with the International Migration Research Centre and cross-appointed between the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Before coming to Waterloo, Mountz was on faculty at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and the 2009-2010 Mackenzie King Research Fellow with the Canada Program at Harvard University. 

During academic year 2015–2016, Dr. Mountz is on leave from Wilfrid Laurier University as the 2015-2016 Wiliam Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard University.    

Dr. Mountz's work explores the tension between the decisions, displacements, and desires that drive human migration and the policies and practices designed to manage migration. Her current 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 the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. 

In 2010 Mountz published Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border (University of Minnesota Press). In this monograph, she looks at how Canada and other countries respond to human smuggling. Seeking Asylum was awarded the 2011 Meridian Book Prize from the Association of American Geographers. She is now completing two monographs: The Enforcement Archipelago and Boats, Borders, and Bases (with Dr. Jenna Loyd). The first explores offshore interception and detention; the second documents the geographical development of the US detention system, understood through the 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. She recently completed research as Principal Investigator of the Island Detention Project (funded by a CAREER grant from the NSF), which examined the role of islands in migration enforcement off the shores of North America, Europe, and Australia. She continues research in these regions, including collaborative work with doctoral student Keegan Williams on boat losses and enforcement operations on the Mediterranean Sea.

Mountz recently began new SSHRC-funded projects on US war resisters in Canada and the use of big data to better understand human displacement. 

Select Publications

  • Mountz, A (2015) In/visibility and the securitization of migration: shaping publics through border enforcement on islands. Cultural Politics 11(2): 184-200
  • Billo, E & A Mountz (2015) For institutional ethnography: geographical approaches to institutions and the everyday. Progress in Human Geography. DOI: 10.1177/0309132515572269.
  • Mountz, A (2014) Political Geography II: Islands and Archipelagos. Progress in Human Geography. DOI: 10.1177/0309132514560958.
  • Mountz, A & J Loyd (2014) Transnational productions of remoteness: building onshore and offshore carceral regimes across borders. Geographica + Helvetica 69: 389-398.
  • 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.
  • Mountz, A & N Hiemstra (2013) Chaos and crisis: dissecting the spatio-temporal logics of contemporary migrations and state practices. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. DOI: 10.1080/00045608.2013.857547
  • Mountz, A (2013) Political Geography I: Reconfiguring geographies of sovereignty. Progress in Human Geography 37(6): 829-841.
  • Mountz, A, K Coddington, RT Catania, J Loyd (2013) Conceptualizing detention: Mobility, containment, bordering, and exclusion. Progress in Human Geography 37(4): 522-541.
  • Mountz, A & L Briskman (2012) Introducing Island Detentions: The placement of asylum seekers and migrants on islands. Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures 6(2): 21-26.
  • Mountz, A. (2011) "The enforcement archipelago: detention, haunting, and asylum on islands." Politicial Geography 30:118-128.
  • Mountz, A. (2011) "Where asylum-seekers wait: feminist counter-topographies of sites between states." Gender, Place and Culture 18 (3): 381-399.
  • Mountz, A. (2010) Seeking asylum: human smuggling and bureaucracy at the border. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • For a full list of publications, see:

Academic/Professional Awards

  • 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