Alison Mountz

Alison Mountz
Associate Vice-Principal of Research & Innovation, Strategic Partnerships & Initiatives
Telephone number
Building HL 504


I am a political geographer and migration and border studies scholar. My research explores how people cross borders, access asylum, survive detention, resist war, and create safe havens. I advise student research on migration and displacement, borders, political and feminist geographies. Transnational research on migration means that I work in many regions of the world. Current SSHRC-funded work examines shifting geographies of asylum-seeking, landscapes and policies of protection, and resettlement of refugees in North America from remote islands in the Pacific - a project called Asylum’s Afterlives. I direct a new lab at UTSC called Haven: The Asylum Lab, designed to preserve, provide access and tools to analyze migration-related data. I love to write, and am also interested in the mobilization of knowledge through art. Filmmaker Lisa Molomot and I recently collaborated to make a feature-length documentary about two generations of US war resisters who moved to Canada in search of protection. SAFE HAVEN (2020) is available on Kanopy and New Day: Before moving to U of T, I was on faculty at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Wilfrid Laurier University's Balsillie School for International Affairs. 


Mountz, A (2020) The death of asylum: hidden geographies of the enforcement archipelago. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 

Loyd, J and A Mountz (2018) Boats, Borders, and Bases: Race, the Cold War, and the Rise of Migration Detention in the United States. Los Angeles: University of California Press. 

Mountz, A (2010) Seeking asylum: human smuggling and bureaucracy at the border.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 

Selected articles 

[Full list available at  Google Scholar]

Mountz, A & K Williams (2023) Let geography die: the rise, fall, and “unfinished business” of geography at Harvard. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, DOI:  10.1080/24694452.2023.2208645 

Mountz, A & S Mohan (2022) Human migration in a new era of mobility: intersectional and transnational approaches. Global Social Challenges 1(1): 59-75. 

Mountz, A, J Micieli-Voutsinas, S Mohan (2022) Contrapuntal histories of war resistance: mapping US war resister migrations, questioning Canada as safe haven. Canadian Geographer 66(4): 641-655.

Mountz, A (2020) Seeking status, forging refuge: U.S. war resister migrations to Canada. Refuge 36(1): 97-107.

Williams, K & A Mountz (2018) Between enforcement and precarity: externalization and migrant deaths at sea. International Migration 56(5): 74-89.

Maillet, P, A Mountz, K Williams (2018) Exclusion through imperio: entanglements of law and geography in the waiting zone, excised territory and search and rescue region. Social & Legal Studies 27(2): 142-163

Maillet, P, A Mountz, K Williams (2016) Researching detention, asylum-seeking, and unauthorized migration: the challenges of, and limits to, field work in confined locations and wide-open spaces. Social and Cultural Geographies 18(7): 927-950.

Mountz, A (2011) The enforcement archipelago: detention, haunting, and asylum on islands.  Political Geography 30(3): 118-128


Selected Awards and Grants

I held a Canada Research Chair in Global Migration at Wilfrid Laurier University and the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professorship of Canadian Studies at Harvard University. My work has been funded by the Canada Research Chair in Global Migration, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the US National Science Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Embassy, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. I am a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada and a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. 

2021 – 2025                            
SSHRC Insight Grant (PI): “Asylum’s afterlives: reshaping protection, from island detention to resettlement in North America” 

Globe Book Award for advancing public understanding of geography

Awarded by the American Association of Geographers to The Death of Asylum: Hidden Geographies of the Enforcement Archipelago                                            

2020 - 2023                             
John Evans Leadership Fund, Canadian Fund for Infrastructure (PI): “Haven: The Asylum Lab”

2019 – 2025                           
SSHRC Partnership Development Grant: “Negotiating asylum and protection along the Canada-US border: forging collaboration through research”

2015 – 2020                            
SSHRC Insight Grant (PI): “Canada as safe haven? The migration of war resisters from the United States”

2009 – 2014                            
US National Science Foundation CAREER Grant (PI): “Geographies of Sovereignty: Global Migration, Legality, and the Island Index” 

Meridian Book Award for outstanding scholarly work in geography                                             

Awarded by the American Association of Geographers to Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border

Research Interests

  • Political geographies of migration and displacement;
  • Border studies;
  • Geographies of detention, political asylum, and war resistance;
  • Island studies;
  • Methodologies and migration;
  • Feminist, queer histories of geography


PhD, University of British Columbia
MA, Hunter College, City University of New York
BA, Dartmouth College