The geopolitics of knowledge production in international migration law

Thomas Spijkerboer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter addresses the involvement of academic research on international migration law in the political project of the global North to impose its view concerning international migration law on the global South. The purportedly well-established principle of international law that states have the right exclude foreigners has its origins in the US Supreme Court’s Chinese Exclusion case law. The doctrine holding that the right of exclusion is inherent in state sovereignty developed there has been adopted and transformed by the European Court of Human Rights. In order to show the continuing relevance of the Chinese Exclusion doctrine, I will analyse a rather everyday judgment of the European Court about boat people (J.R. et autres v Grèce 2018). This will be contrasted with a judgment about boat people from the global South, issued by the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Supreme Court of Justice (Namah v Pato 2016). I will then show how the PNG judgment, and law from the global South more generally, is sidelined in academic work, while Strasbourg judgments are treated as embodying the state of international law (even when they are being criticised). I will analyse this as an act of power erasing sources of international migration law from the global South. I will close by showing that this erasure can be, and actually is being resisted within the discipline of international law.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on the Law and Politics of Migration
EditorsCatherine Dauvergne, Simon Fraser
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781789902266
ISBN (Print)9781789902259
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameResearch Handbooks in Law and Politics series
PublisherEdward Elgar

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Editor and Contributors Severally 2021.


Dive into the research topics of 'The geopolitics of knowledge production in international migration law'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this