Border Presence along International Crossings

Faculty Member: Professor Beth Simmons

This proposal is to create a database that systematically documents state presence along critical infrastructural routes connecting states. 

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 (official building, inspection sites, and barriers).  This involves looking at aerial images (successive images where available) and entering observations into an Excel sheet according to strict criteria.  Students should have at least 5 hours of time to devote to this project weekly.

Requirements: Must be a Harvard College undergraduate student and able to devote 5 hours of work per week. Must demonstrate genuine interest in the project; some familiarity with Google Earth is a plus.