Policing and the Border
By Max Hamon
Policing and the BorderJun 02, 2021
Benjamin Hoy - Drawing a Border Across Indigenous Lands
According to historian Benjamin Hoy, the US-Canadian border was a line of Blood and Dirt. This is the title of his recent book, the subtitle is Creating the Canada-United States Border Across Indigenous Lands published by Oxford University Press in 2021. The book foregrounds what he refers to as the lived experience of the border, and provides us with access to the perspectives that many Indigenous people have left for us. This book shows this was a complex history. Yes, both countries used violence, hunger and coercion to displace Indigenous communities and their ideas of territory and belonging. At the sametime it foregrounds their own efforts to come to terms with, and even build the border. We learn how federal governments, with this customs officers, border agents, police patrols, and surveyors encountered and interacted with Indigenous peoples and negotiated a border.
Blacks and the Border Interview with Dr. Amani Whitfield
An important part of the history of the Canadian US border is the history of slavery. Many Canadians believe that antipathy for slavery, following from what we might call the moral capital of Abolitionism, put their nation on the right side of history. In fact, frequently refugees were not welcomed, and their migration into Canada was often subjected to legal and social regulation and rejection. Dr. Harvey Amani Whitfield is the leading authority on slavery in the Maritime provinces, and together we discussed his books Blacks on the Border: the Black Refugees in British North America, 1815-1860 and North to Bondage: Loyalist Slavery in the Maritimes. In this episode we speak about what the border meant to Blacks, both refugees and slaves, and white British colonists in the Maritimes.
Elusive Refuge with Dr. Laura Madokoro
In her recent book Elusive Refuge: Chinese Migrants in the Cold War, Laura Madokoro describes the intense international debate around refugees from China that transformed notions of humanitarian responsibility and refugee protection. In this interview we talk about the politics of legal definitions of migration, border controls, international policing, and the problems and benefits of settler colonialism as a framework.
Extradition and Abduction with Dr. Bradley Miller
In 1842, the Webster-Ashburton Commission, which also led to the drawing of the international boundary, laid the first legal framework for a treaty of extradition between Canada and the United States. Despite such treaties, borderline crime continued to challenge the legal order and therefore both British and American sovereignty. Extradition treaties have always been tied to issues of territorial sovereignty, but there are other informal ways of policing the border. Bradley Miller’s book explores the challenge of the border. Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border 1819-1914, was published in 2016 by the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal history. The book is a remarkable and important study of the history of the challenge of the border and shows how governments and people struggled to deal with crime and criminals which crossed the Canadian-American border.
Salmon and Bandits on the Salish Sea with Dr. Lissa Wadewitz
Competition for access to and control of the abundant salmon on west coast leads us to a history is rife with bandits, smugglers, and other lawbreakers. The issues surrounding licensing, environmental protection, and fisheries management are obviously pertinent to the history of law-enforcement, and make for a fascinating study of policing the border. In her book, The Nature of Borders: Salmon, Boundaries, and Bandits on the Salish Sea, Lissa Wadewitz, has explored the history of policing salmon fishing. Starting from the Indigenous Peoples that fished the Salish Sea and the rivers that ran into it, she explores how the area has long been the site of intensely managed fishing practices. When settler colonial states drew the boundaries along the 49th parallel they largely ignored the behaviour of the salmon. As a result their efforts to police the salmon fishery were woefully inadequate. As the canned salmon industry grew and illegal fishing escaped detection, bandits competed and stole fish from each other, nation states were unable to responsibly manage the salmon fishery. Overfishing, social tensions and international mistrust were piled on to environmental devastation and by the first quarter of the twentieth century it was clear that the fishery was in decline. In this interview we talk about the complications of jurisdiction, dispossession, and the challenges of policing this precious resource. We talk about the challenges of accessing historical sources in the history of policing illegal activities and joys and goals of writing about the histories of environmental regulation and its failures.
Policing the Detroit-Windsor Borderland with Dr. Holly Karibo
The connectivity of a border is why it is so heavily policed. In the early twentieth century the Detroit-Windsor border became the busiest crossing point between Canada and the United States, setting the stage for social and economic links between these two cities for years to come. In many respects, the Detroit-Windsor border connected, rather than divided these two spaces. And it was composed of multiple overlapping jurisdictions, discourses and senses of belonging. Crossing the border became easier when the Ambassador bridge opened in 1929. And in 1930, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel opened. It was the height of prohibition and alcohol, heroin, and prostitution markets were well-known reasons that many crossed the river. Windsor developed the reputation of being Sin City North. In this episode I speak to Dr. Holly Karibo about her book Sin City North: Sex, Drugs, and Citizenship in the Detroit-Windsor Borderland. It describes how the bars and brothels of Windsor and Detroit were filled by a united desire to experience freedom of crossing the river. This episode introduces listeners to a book that describes the growth of vice economies that emerged in the post-war era by following the smugglers and sex tourists, as well as the police officers and investigative journalists.
Policing on the Great Plains with Dr. Andrew Graybill
The Texas Rangers and the Canadian Mounted Police are two of the most distinctive and recognisable constabularies in the history of policing. Both were central to settling the west and the subjugation of Indigenous Peoples on the Plains. The famous red serge and the Sheriff’s star are essential props that evoke the history of bringing law and order to the frontier. In this podcast I interview Dr. Andrew Graybill on his book, Policing the Great Plains: Ranger’s Mounties and the North American Frontier 1875-1910, published by Nebraska University Press in 2007. Graybill brings their histories together to show that the Rangers and the Mounties preformed nearly identical functions. By comparing their histories Graybill gets beyond the romantic image to show a shockingly similar history of subjugating Indigenous Groups and dispossessing peoples of mixed ancestry. Further he argues that both forces need to be seen as part of the emergence of industrial capitalism, and explores how both were key to defending the property of cattle ranchers and policing industrial strikes.