Photo of William Walters

William Walters

Foucault studies; borders and migration; political sociology; secrecy and security.

Degrees:BSc (London) MA (CUNY) PhD (York)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2790
Office:C673 Loeb Building

Academia:     Follow

Google Scholar:  Follow


I am a Professor of Politics in the Department of Political Science and Department of Sociology & Anthropology, and FPA Research Excellence Chair (2019-22) at Carleton. As an undergraduate I trained in chemistry at Imperial College, London, before doing graduate studies in politics at City University of New York and York University, Toronto. I have published widely in the areas of political sociology, political geography, citizenship studies, security and insecurity, and Foucault studies. If I had to describe my approach it would be empirical or grounded political theory. This is to say that I am interested in questions of theory which I approach by working through specific cases, contexts and domains. The domains I have looked at include the history of unemployment, migration and borders, and most recently, state secrecy and the covert imaginary.

Besides my ongoing interest in secrecy I am currently working on three projects: (1) a SSHRC funded (2017-22) collaborative study of air deportation which focuses on the role of civil aviation in the forced removals of illegalized or criminalized people in and from Europe; (2) a co-edited book (with Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani) called Viapolitics: Borders, Migration and the Power of Locomotion (forthcoming with Duke University Press); (3) The Handbook on Governmentality for Edward Elgar publishing, which I am co-editing with Martina Tazzioli and which should appear in 2022.

If you think our interests might overlap and you are looking for supervision, do get in touch!

Selected Publications

Walters, W. 2021. State Secrecy and Security: Refiguring the Covert Imaginary, New York: Routledge.
Listen to a podcast conversation about this book with William Walters and Alison Mountz, Balsillie School.

Walters, W. 2020. ‘Everyday Secrecy: Oral History and the Social Life of a Top Secret Research Establishment during the Cold War’. Security Dialogue. 51(1): 60-76.

Walters, W. 2020. ‘Secrecy and Migration’, PARSE Journal, Issue 10.

Dijstelbloem, H. and Walters, W. 2019. ‘Atmospheric Border Politics: The Morphology of Border and Solidarity Practices in Europe’, Geopolitics. DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2019.1577826, pp.1-24.

Walters, W. 2019. ‘The Microphysics of Deportation. A Critical Reading of Return Flight Monitoring Reports.’ M. Hoesch and L. Laube (eds) Proceedings of the 2018 ZiF Workshop “Studying Migration Policies at the Interface between Empirical Research and Normative Analysis”, ULB Münster (, 161–185. DOI: 10.17879/95189425134

Walters, W. 2018. ‘Aviation as Deportation Infrastructure: Airports, Planes, and Expulsion’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. 44(16): 2796-2817. [Published in Italian as: ‘Aeri, aeroporti ed espulsioni: Le infrastrutture aeree come strumento di deportazione’, in L. Navone (ed.) Confini, Mobilità e Migrazioni: Una cartografia dello spazio Europeo, (Milan: Agenzia X, 2020), 49-80 (trans. by L. Navone).]

Walters, W. and A. Luscombe. 2017. ‘Hannah Arendt and the Art of Secrecy; Or, The Fog of Cobra Mist’, International Political Sociology 11(1): 5-20.