This paper develops a critique of the emergence of the new European Border Agency, Frontex, specifically its operations along Europe's maritime borders with North Africa. Rather than account for Frontex in terms of securitising and neoliberalising processes, as has become common, I focus instead on the underlying geopolitical rationalities that guide Frontex operations. These reflections then set up the further argument of the paper: that what Frontex itself sheds light upon is a novel geopolitics of the border, what can be thought of as an ‘incorporating geopolitics’. Through investigation of the policies and practices of Frontex, such an incorporating geopolitics can be shown to be replacing the much-discussed paradox of contemporary border regimes – that between trade freedoms and security restrictions – with a more fundamental contradiction: that the more border controls address more than just borders, the more they may themselves undermine the societies they purport to protect.
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