Border Presence along international crossings

Faculty Member: Beth Simmons

Studies of various transnational phenomena have burgeoned over the past decades. Many studies portray states as highly permeable entities with degrading abilities to regulate activities that cross their borders. This is certainly the case with studies of transnational crime, e.g., cross-border trafficking in illicit goods, services and labor. And yet, we know very little about the geography of state authority and presence along international borders. This proposal is to create a database that systematically documents state presence along critical infrastructural routes connecting states. From a collection of more than 2,300 highway border crossings detected by satellite in 2010, I seek student assistance to download satellite imagery from Google Earth and/or Bing maps to code the extent of “border presence” along these crossings. I am most interested in official (e.g., law enforcement, military) presence along these corridors. As a first step it is useful to count buildings or to calculate square footage of buildings within a specified distance from the border, but there may be more detailed ways to detect evidence of an official presence.

This position is part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URS) in the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University.