15 May 2024 16:00 - 17:30 Old Divinity School, St Johns College, Cambridge CB2 1TP



E Tendayi Achiume (Alicia Miñana Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles and former UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance)


Vasuki Nesiah (Professor of Practice in Human Rights and International Law, Gallatin School, New York University)


Tugba Basaran (Director of the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement, University of Cambridge).


Most legal theory treats border governance as a function of nation-state sovereignty, and as primarily the domain of the state. Yet transnational corporations have a long, colonial history of making and using borders and race together as technologies of economic profit. Even in the present, corporate enterprise plays a material role in constituting the meaning and application of national borders, and corporations profit immensely from forms of jurisdictional arbitrage made possible by legal categories, including racialised and racialising legal categories. The border is, in some meaningful but not totalising sense, for and by the corporation, and ‘corporate borders’ are racial borders. This lecture will explore a legal conception of, what I provisionally term racial corporate borders. It will also ask what difference it makes to engage with corporations as de facto sovereign or super-sovereigns as the baseline from which border justice is re-imagined. If the neocolonialism of borders, and the racial injustices embedded in these borders are significantly a corporate affair, what sort of reorientation is required in legal scholarship, advocacy and policymaking on the future of borders and migration governance?

The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement runs a lecture series on Migration and Refugees named after Lord Dubs, a renowned and tireless campaigner for refugee rights, famous for the two ‘Dubs Amendments’ to allow unaccompanied and separated refugee children in Europe to be reunited with family members in the UK.

Related events

This event is organised in collaboration with the Debordering futures: racial capitalism, coloniality and migrant justice conference.

If you have specific accessibility needs for this event please get in touch. We will do our best to accommodate any requests.

Supported by:

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University of Cambridge, Centre for the Global Human Movement




Speaker biography

Tendayi Achiume

Tendayi Achiume is the inaugural Alicia Miñana Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, a research associate of the African Center for Migration and Society at the University of Witwatersrand, and an extraordinary professor in the department of jurisprudence at the University of Pretoria. She is also the former UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, and was the first woman to serve in this role since its creation in 1994. In 2023, she was appointed as a commissioner to the O’Neill-Lancet Commission on Racism, Structural Discrimination and Global Health. The current focus of her scholarship is the global governance of racism and xenophobia; and the legal and ethical implications of colonialism for contemporary international migration. In 2016, she co-chaired the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law, and is currently an editor on the board of the American Journal of International Law. She is also a recipient of the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award—the highest university-wide honor for excellence in teaching. Her publications include: Racial Borders, Georgetown Law Journal; Migration as Decolonization, Stanford Law Review; Governing Xenophobia, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law; Syria, Cost-Sharing and the Responsibility to Protect Refugees, Minnesota Law Review; and Beyond Prejudice: Structural Xenophobic Discrimination Against Refugees, Georgetown Journal of International Law. She is currently the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor of Human Rights at Stanford Law School. In 2023 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for “exceptional creativity” and “promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment.”

Vasuki Nesiah

Vasuki Nesiah is Professor of Practice in Human Rights and International Law at the Gallatin School, at New York University. Currently a Yip Fellow at Cambridge University, she is also core faculty in the Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) at Harvard Law School and teaches annually in IGLP workshops. Prof. Nesiah has published extensively on the history and politics of international law, human rights, transnational feminisms, reparations and decolonization. Her current focus is on her book project on reparations, tentatively titled Reading the Ruins: Slavery, Colonialism and International Law. She recently completed International Conflict Feminism which is forthcoming later this year with University of Pennsylvania Press. She is also co-editing the Handbook on Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) which is under contract with Elgar.  She is a founding member of Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) and her previously co-edited work also speaks to this tradition, A Global History of Bandung and Critical Traditions in International Law (Cambridge 2017).

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