The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Women in Political Science Working Group Speaker Series- Beth Simmons (Univ of Pennsylvania)

Border Orientation in a Globalizing World: Concept and Measurement

Fri, September 20, 2019 | BAT 5.108

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


Abstract: While border politics have become an increasingly salient component of high international politics, political scientists have made few attempts to systematically analyze variation in national border policy. To make analytic headway in this area, we develop the concept of “border orientation” to describe the extent to which the State is committed to the spatial display of capacities to control the terms of penetration of its national borders. We then introduce a first-ever effort to develop a geo-spatial database of the world’s major architectural features along international borders. We use these data to construct and validate estimates of border orientation, ranging from open and permissive orientations, to closed and controlling orientations. We highlight empirical patterns in these data, linking the global trend toward closed orientations with real and perceived pressures of globalization.


Bio: Beth Simmons is Andrea Mitchell University Professor of Law and Political Science Penn Law, University of Pennsylvania. She researches and teaches international relations, international law and international political economy.  She is best known for her research on international political economy during the interwar years, policy diffusion globally and her work demonstrating the influence that international law has on human rights outcomes around the world. Two of her books, Who Adjusts? Domestic Sources of Foreign Economic Policy During the Interwar Years (2004) and Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics (2009) won the American Political Science Association's Woodrow Wilson Award for the best book published in the United States on government, politics, or international affairs.  The latter was also recognized by the American Society for International Law, the International Social Science Council and the International Studies association as the best book of the year in 2010. She is currently conducting research in three areas: global performance assessments as informal governance mechanisms in international affairs; international border crossings, and especially evidence of their “thickening” in recent decades in many parts of the world; and international and transnational crime. Simmons has spent a year working at the International Monetary Fund, directed the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, is a past president of the International Studies Association and has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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