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Border guarding and the politics of the body: an examination of the Finnish Border Guard service

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In previous studies, the question of the state control over the bodies of people at border-crossing points has been of great interest, while less attention has been given to the bodies that carry out border surveillance and control. This article introduces a new perspective on the study of the state and gender by examining the imaginations and rationalities of state border guarding and the politics of the body in the Finnish Border Guard (FBG) service. By taking the body politics and gendered relations of border guarding as an analytical starting point, this study takes a step forward toward ‘feminizing’ the study of borders and border securitization. The article scrutinizes the depictions, articulations, and conceptualizations of the work competence in border guarding and the performances of female border guards in the official media of the FBG organization, as well as discusses how the interrelations of border guarding and body politics become structured around questions concerning masculine romantics, the (in)capacities of female officers and the embodied nature of border monitoring. The study shows the pervasive, and also controversial, nature of gendered imaginations and rationalities in the domain of border guarding in contemporary societies.
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Keywords: Finnish Border Guard; Guardia de Frontera Finlandesa; body; border; cuerpo; estado; feminist political geography; frontera; geografía política feminista; state

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014, Oulu, Finland

Publication date: November 26, 2015

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