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Airports as Borderlands: American Preclearance and Transitional Spaces in Canada

Harry Hiller


Airport preclearance is a unique mechanism in transborder relations between Canada and the United States that allows airline passengers to clear customs and immigration before boarding the aircraft rather than upon arrival at the destination. Preclearance is explained in relation to the changing nature of border security in the context of Canadian-American relations, bilateral air policies, and the structural features of the two societies. However, it is argued that the primary significance of preclearance is that it provides unique evidence of how airports themselves are the new borders of transnational interaction by deterritorializing national boundaries. Preclearance is analyzed in three modes: as a mechanism facilitating both intersocietal integration and symbolic difference concurrently, as a procedure occurring in a building with structural spaces possessing different meanings, and as a subjective experience of travelers and workers within the airport.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229