IR/PO/SO347 - Building Walls: Borders, Violence & Separation

The course examines, from a comparative perspective, the practice of wall building as a political strategy to respond to security challenges through the reinforcement of external and internal borders. Although the common discourse on globalization dismisses borders as increasingly irrelevant to the human experience, the Western world is erecting new borders, both material and immaterial (e.g., challenges to the Schengen system in Europe, the Dublin Convention, and the forced eviction of migrants/refugees), essentially aiming to control and prevent the flow of people across borders. 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. Through the analysis of historical and recent wall/border construction cases, the course seeks to comparatively highlight the global dimension of this response to a variety of security challenges. Attention will be dedicated to the encounter/clash between local communities and the process of imposing walls: borders create political, social, and cultural distinctions, but simultaneously imply the existence of networks across them, transnational 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 the more recent erection of walls has a strong connection to the control of migration and people flows. 

Course Information


International Relations
Political Science

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