Kate Swanson

Professor, Canada Research Chair in International Peace, Security and Children


Email: Kate.Swanson@dal.ca
Phone: + 1 902 494 3317
Mailing Address: 
Department of International Development Studies
Marion McCain Building
6135 University Ave.
Dalhousie University
PO Box 15000
Halifax, NS, Canada
B3H 4R2

Office location:
3037 Marion McCain Building
Research Topics:
  • Migration, asylum and refugees
  • Children and youth
  • Immigration detention
  • Violence and human rights
  • Latin America and US/Mexico border


  • B.A. University of Guelph
  • M.A. University of Guelph
  • Ph.D. University of Toronto

While I have wide ranging interests in development and critical human geography, I currently focus on youth migration in Latin America and the U.S./Mexico border region. In recent years, I have worked extensively with migrants in Mexican and American immigration detention centres. My research explores issues surrounding youth, rights, inequality, and violence.

My past research includes work concerning: street children, street vendors and beggars; policing and zero tolerance; research ethics and methodologies; identity, power and inequality; pedagogy and geographic education; and environmental policy. My geographic focus is also broad and I have undertaken field research in Honduras, Mexico and Ecuador, as well as China, Vietnam, and Scotland.

Given my current research interests, I welcome students interested in youth, migration, asylum, and/or immigration detention, particularly in Latin America and the US/Mexico border region. However, I am open to other topics as well; please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Aitken, Stuart C., Kate Swanson, Fernando Bosco and Thomas Herman (Eds.). 2011. Young People, Border Spaces and Revolutionary Imaginations. New York: Routledge.

Swanson, Kate. 2010. Begging as a Path to Progress: Indigenous Women and Children and the Struggle for Ecuador’s Urban Spaces. Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation book series. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Swanson, Kate. 2010. Pidiendo Caridad en la Ciudad: Mujeres y Niños Indígenas en las Calles de Ecuador.  Quito: Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)-Abya Yala.

Select Articles and Chapters:

Torres, Rebecca Maria, Kate Swanson, Caroline Faria, Tamara Segura, Sarah Blue. 2022. Bordering through Care and Control: Policing and Sheltering Central American Migrant Youth in Mexico. Political Geography. 98: 102719. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0962629822001330

Torres, Rebecca Maria, Sarah Blue, Caroline Faria, Tamara Segura, Kate Swanson. 2022. “Asylum is not for Mexicans”: Unaccompanied youth and racio-governance at the US border. Geopoliticshttps://doi.org/10.1080/14650045.2022.2086459

Ciborowski, Haley M., Samantha Hurst, Ramona L. Perez, Kate Swanson, Eric Leas, Kimberly C. Brouwer, Holly Baker Shakya. 2022. Through our own eyes and voices: The experiences of those “left-behind” in rural, Indigenous migrant-sending communities in western Guatemala. Journal of Migration and Health. Volume 5, 100096,  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmh.2022.100096

Delgado, Emanuel and Kate Swanson.  2021. Gentefication in the barrio: Art, displacement and urban change in Southern California. Journal of Urban Affairs. 43: 925-940.

Wood, Lydia, Kate Swanson and Don Colley. 2020. Tenets for a radical care ethics in geography. ACME. 19(2):424-447.

Swanson, Kate. 2020. Children and young people in Latin America: Inequality, rights and empowerment. Pages 191-206 in Placing Latin America: Contemporary Themes in Human Geography, 4th edition. E. Jackiewicz and F. Bosco (Eds.). Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Swanson, Kate. 2020. Urban ethnography. Pages 57-73 in Researching the City: A Guide for Students, 2nd Edition. Edited by Kevin Ward. London: Sage Press.

Swanson, Kate. 2019. Silent killing: The inhumanity of US immigration detention. Journal of Latin American Geography. 18 (3): 176-187.

Askins, Kye and Kate Swanson. 2019. Holding onto emotions: politics, social justice and academic approaches. Emotion, Space and Society. 33. 100617.

Gilliam, Shea Ellen and Kate Swanson. 2019. A cautionary tale: Trauma, ethics and mentorship in research. Gender, Place and Culture. 27: 903-911.

Thompson, Amy, Rebecca M. Torres, Kate Swanson, Sarah A. Blue & Óscar Misael Hernández Hernández. 2019. Re-conceptualising agency in migrant children from Central America and MexicoJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 45: 235-252.

Swanson, Kate. 2018. From New York to Ecuador and back again: Transnational journeys of policies and people. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. 108: 390-398.

Wood, Lydia, David Kamper and Kate Swanson. 2018. Spaces of hope? Youth perspectives on health and wellness in Indigenous communities. Health and Place. 50: 137-145.  

Swanson, Kate and Rebecca M. Torres. 2016. Child migration and transnationalized violence in Central and North America. Journal of Latin American Geography. 15: 23-48.

Swanson, Kate. 2018. Street vendors in Latin America. Handbook of Latin American Development. J. Cupples, M. Palomina-Schalsch and M. Prieto (Eds.). London: Routledge.

Mackie, Peter, Kate Swanson and Ryan Goode. 2017.  Reclaiming space: street trading and revanchism in Latin America. Pages 63-76 in Rebel Streets, Informal Economies and the Law. A. Brown (Ed). London: Routledge.

Swanson, Kate, Rebecca M. Torres, Amy Thompson, Sarah Blue and Oscar Misael Hernández Hernández. 2015. A year after Obama declared a “Humanitarian Situation” at the border, child migration continues. NACLA Report on the Americas.

For more publications, see my Google Scholar profile. If you’d like copies of any of these articles or chapters, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


Select Media Coverage:

Moran, Padraig. 2019. How letters from migrants shed light on the 'intolerable' conditions inside U.S. detention centres. CBC News. April 23, 2019. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/how-letters-from-migrants-shed-light-on-the-intolerable-conditions-inside-u-s-detention-centres-1.5103181

Pettit, Emma. 2019. ‘Begging to Have Their Stories Told’: San Diego State Professors Create Living Archive of Migrants’ Letters From Detention. The Chronicle of Higher Education. February 13, 2021. https://www.chronicle.com/article/Begging-to-Have-Their/245686

Robbins, Liz. 2019. ‘A Light for Me in the Darkness’: For Migrant Detainees, a Bond Forged by Letter. The New York Times. February 7, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/us/immigrant-detainee-letters.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage