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. 


  1. Mountz, A 2015 In/visibility and the securitization of migration: shaping publics through border enforcement on islands 11(2): 184-200
  2. Billo, E & A Mountz 2015 For institutional ethnography: geographical approaches to institutions and the everyday DOI: 101177/0309132515572269
  3. Mountz, A 2014 Political Geography II: Islands and Archipelagos DOI: 101177/0309132514560958
  4. Mountz, A & J Loyd 2014 Transnational productions of remoteness: building onshore and offshore carceral regimes across borders 69: 389-398
  5. Mountz, A & J Loyd 2014 Constructing the Mediterranean region: obscuring violence in the bordering of Europe's migration 'crises' 13(2): 173-195
  6. Mountz, A 2013 Shrinking spaces of asylum: vanishing points where geography is used to inhibit access to asylum 19(3): 29-50
  7. Mountz, A & N Hiemstra 2013 Chaos and crisis: dissecting the spatio-temporal logics of contemporary migrations and state practices DOI: 101080/000456082013857547
  8. Mountz, A 2013 Political Geography I: Reconfiguring geographies of sovereignty 37(6): 829-841
  9. Mountz, A, K Coddington, RT Catania, J Loyd 2013 Conceptualizing detention: Mobility containment bordering and exclusion 37(4): 522-541
  10. Mountz, A & L Briskman 2012 Introducing Island Detentions: The placement of asylum seekers and migrants on islands 6(2): 21-26
  11. Mountz, A 2011 The enforcement archipelago: detention, haunting, and asylum on islands. 30:118-128
  12. Mountz, A 2011 Where asylum-seekers wait: feminist counter-topographies of sites between states. 18 (3): 381-399
  13. Mountz, A 2010 Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
  14. For a full list of publications see: http://scholargoogleca/citations?user=af5D2SUAAAAJ&hl=en

Academic/Professional Awards

  1. Meridian Book Prize from the Association of American Geographers for <em>Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border,</em> 2011
  2. Stanley D. Brunn Young Scholar Award from the Association of American Geographers' Specialty group in Political Geography, 2010
  3. Excellence in Graduate Education Faculty Recognition Award, Syracuse University, 2009
  4. Faculty & Staff Inspiration Award, Syracuse University, 2006
  5. Chancellor's Award for Public Service, Syracuse University, 2006