The Borders Research Initiative (BRI) in Women and Gender Studies at MIT brings together an interdisciplinary group of MIT faculty in the humanities, arts and social sciences who are dedicated to examining issues of border-crossing and citizenship, especially as they intersect with gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class and religion. We seek to understand national borders and border crossings in historical and comparative perspective, in order to explore how concepts of citizenship, identity, gender and race have evolved over time, and to gain clarity on the contemporary manifestations of these issues around the globe.

The BRI was formed in 2010, when a group of faculty affiliated with MIT's program in Women and Gender Studies (WGS) recognized a remarkable degree of synergy in our scholarly work, cohering around the broad themes of border-crossing, citizenship, and identity in relation to race, gender, and family. Despite locations in different departments, with different disciplinary training, and expertise in diverse geographic areas, we discovered a significant degree of overlap in the issues and concerns raised by our individual research projects. We decided to form the “Borders Research Initiative” (BRI) as an interdisciplinary research group.

In 2012, the BRI launched our first interdisciplinary symposium: Border-Crossing: Citizenship, Race, and Gender, held at MIT, October 12-13, 2012. The symposium brought together scholars working in diverse disciplines, as well as experts from outside the academy (including immigration lawyers, activists, and artists) in order to examine issues of border-crossing, citizenship, race and gender from multiple and complementary perspectives. 

In October 2013, the BRI launched the Borders Research Collaboration with PRESAGE Sciences Po, and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia. MIT, Sciences Po, and Columbia gather their forces to study identities, kinship, citizenship, and the sense of belonging across national borders. A first workshop will be organized in Paris, France, on June 9-12, 2014.