IR/PO/SO 347 - The Wall: Borders, Violence and Separation in the Contemporary World
The course, from a comparative perspective, examines the current process of wall building along borders experienced by diverse nation-states in the Western world. Despite the fact that common discourse on globalization dismisses borders as increasingly irrelevant to the human experience, the Western world is actually erecting new borders, both material and immaterial (i.e. challenges to the Schengen system in Europe, the Dublin convention, forced eviction of migrants/refugees, etc..), essentially aiming to control and contrast people flows. Wall building practices today are becoming a political strategy to respond to the security issue through the reinforcement of external but also internal borders (as in the EU case).
The variability of borders will be interpreted through an overview of the contemporary theoretical analysis of borders/borderlands, elaborating on their complexity as spaces/lines, natural/constructed features, porous/fixed territorial definitions, etc. Through the analysis of diverse cases of historical and recent wall/border construction, the course aims will highlight the global dimension of the security issue in a comparative way. More attention will be dedicated to the encounter/clash between local communities and the process of imposition of walls: borders create political, social and cultural distinctions, but simultaneously imply the existence of networks across them, movement of protest, and the construction/reconstruction of group identities. The focus of the course revolves around people’s agency at the border/wall, and concentrates on how wall building has today a strong connection with the control of migration and people flows.