Document Type


Publication Date



Border politics are a salient component of high international politics. States are increasingly building infrastructure to ‘secure’ their borders. We introduce the concept of border orientation to describe the extent to which the State is committed to the spatial display of capacities to control the terms of penetration of its national borders. Border orientation provides a lens through which to analyze resistance to globalization, growing populism, and the consequences of intensified border politics. We measure border orientation using novel, geo-spatial data on the built environment along the world’s borders and theorize that real and perceived pressures of globalization have resulted in more controlling forms of border governance. Empirical evidence supports this claim: states build more along their borders when faced with economic, cultural, and security-based anxieties. Border orientation enhances the study of border politics, complementing the politics of territorial division with a richer politics of liminal securitization and its consequences.


Borders, Border Security, Border Walls

Publication Title

American Journal of Political Science