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The political aesthetics of boundaries and crossings

This interdisciplinary volume explores the role of images and representation in different borderscapes. It provides fresh insight into the ways in which borders, borderscapes and migration are imagined and narrated by offering new ways to approach the political aesthetics of the border. The case studies in the volume contribute to the methodological renewal of border studies and present ways of discussing cultural representations of borders and related processes. The case studies address the role of borders in narrative and images in literary texts, political and popular imagery, surveillance data, video art and survivor testimonies in a highly comparative range of geographical contexts ranging from northern Europe, via Mediterranean and Mexican–US borderlands to Chinese borderlands. The disciplinary approaches include critical theory, literary studies, social anthropology, media studies and political geography. The volume argues that borderlands and border-crossings (such as those by migrants) are present in public discourse and more private, everyday experience. This volume addresses their mediation through various stories, photographs, films and other forms. It suggests that narratives and images are part of the borderscapes in which border-crossings and bordering processes take place, contributing to the negotiation of borders in the public sphere. As the case studies show, narratives and images enable identifying various top-down and bottom-up discourses to be heard and make visible different minority groups and constituencies.

Gender, reproduction, regulation

This book is a collection of chapters by anthropologists and other social scientists concerned with gendered labour, care, intimacy, and sexuality, in relation to mobility and the hardening of borders in Europe. After a brief introduction outlining the themes and individual contributions, the book begins with a chapter focusing on the parallels between regulation of geo-political and material borders separating nation states and other areas, and ideological and classificatory boundaries categorising kinds of people and bodies. This framing chapter is followed by three sections. The first comprises ethnographic and phenomenological case studies of gendered migration experience, in the context of intimate relations of care and marriage. The second section continues with an continuous with an ethnographic emphasis, but focuses more on studies of regulation, agency, and activism in contexts of migration, labour, and/or (biological) reproduction and how migrants navigate social services in their destination countries. The final section shifts emphasis more in the direction of conceptual discussion and contains analyses of state and church regulation of bodies, sexualities, reproduction and knowledge practices, and of different regimes of care. Overall, a major aim of the book is to illuminate processes of inclusion and exclusion generated by and around borders and boundaries, and the processes by which they are reproduced and/or contested.

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Movements of people, objects, and ideas in the southern Balkans

This book is a theoretical and ethnographic study of the shifting border between the Republic of North Macedonia and Greece. The central argument is that political borders between states not only restrict or regulate the movement of people and things but are also always porous and permeable, exceeding state governmentality. To support this argument the book draws on scholarship from geology that describes and classifies different kinds of rock porosity. Just as seemingly solid rock is often laden with pores that allow the passage of liquids and gases, so too are ostensibly impenetrable borders laden with forms and infrastructures of passage. This metaphor is theoretically powerful, as it facilitates the idea of border porosities through a varied set of case studies centered on the Greek–Macedonian border. The case studies include: the history of railways in the region, border-town beauty tourism, child refugees during the Greek Civil War, transnational mining corporations and environmental activism, and, finally, a massive, highly politicized urban renewal project. Using interdisciplinary frameworks combining anthropology, history, philosophy, and geology, the book analyzes permeations triggered by the border and its porous nature that underline the empirical, political, and philosophical processes with all their emancipatory or restrictive effects.

Temporality and the crossing of borders in Europe

Migrating borders and moving times explores how crossing borders entails shifting time as well as changing geographical location. Space has long dominated the field of border studies, a prominence which the recent ‘spatial turn’ in social science has reinforced. This book challenges the classic analytical pre-eminence of ‘space’ by focusing on how ‘border time’ is shaped by, shapes and constitutes the borders themselves.

Using original field data from Israel, northern Europe and Europe's south-eastern borders (Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Sarajevo, Lesbos), our contributors explore ‘everyday forms of border temporality’ – the ways in which people through their temporal practices manage, shape, represent and constitute the borders across which they move or at which they are made to halt. In these accounts, which are based on fine-tuned ethnographic research sensitive to historical depth and wider political-economic context and transformation, ‘moving’ is understood not only as mobility but as affect, where borders become not just something to be ‘crossed’ but something that is emotionally experienced and ‘felt’.

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Gender and sexuality at the eastern borders of Europe

Borders of Desire takes a novel approach to the study of borders: rather than seeing them only as obstacles to the fulfilment of human desires, this collection focuses on how borders can also be productive of desire. Based on long-term ethnographic engagement with sites along the eastern borders of Europe, particularly in the Baltics and the Balkans, the studies in this volume illuminate how gendered and sexualized desires are generated by the existence of borders and how they are imagined. The book takes a performative approach, emphasizing not what borders are, but what borders do – and in this case, what they produce. Borders are thus treated less as artefacts of desires and more as sources of desire: a border’s existence, which marks a difference between here and there, can trigger imaginations about what might be on the other side, creating new desires expressed as aspirations, resentments, and actions including physical movements across borders for pleasure or work, while also as enactments of political ideals or resistance. As the chapters show, sometimes these desires spring from orientalising imaginaries of the other, sometimes from economically inspired fantasies of a different life, and sometimes from ethnosexual projections or reimaginings of political pasts and futures. Taken as a whole, Borders of Desire offers new perspectives on the work borders do, as well as on the gendered and sexed lives of those in and from the eastern borders of Europe, and the persistent East/West symbolic divide that continues to permeate European political and social life.

Selection, containment and quarantine since 1800

The subject of this volume is situated at the point of intersection of the studies of medicalisation and border studies. The authors discuss borders as sites where human mobility has been and is being controlled by biomedical means, both historically and in the present. Three types of border control technologies for preventing the spread of disease are considered: quarantine, containment and the biomedical selection of migrants and refugees. These different types of border control technologies are not exclusive of one another, nor do they necessarily lead to total restrictions on movement. Instead of a simplifying logic of exclusion–inclusion, this volume turns the focus towards the multilayered entanglement of medical regimes in attempts at managing the porosity of the borders. State and institutional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic provide evidence for the topicality of such attempts. Using interdisciplinary approaches, the chapters scrutinise ways in which concerns and policies of disease prevention shift or multiply borders, as well as connecting or disconnecting places. The authors address several questions: to what degree has containment for medical reasons operated as a bordering process in different historical periods including the classical quarantine in the Mediterranean and south-eastern Europe, in the Nazi-era, and in postcolonial UK? Moreover, do understandings of disease and the policies for selecting migrants and refugees draw on both border regimes and humanitarianism, and what factors put limits on the technologies of selection?

New theoretical directions

Materiality has long been tied to the political projects of nationalism and capitalism. But how are we to rethink borders in this context? Is the border the limit where the capitalist nation-state, contested and re-created at its centre, becomes fixed? Or is it something else? Is the border something, or does it instead do things? This volume brings questions of materiality to bear specifically on the study of borders. These questions address specifically the shift from ontology to process in thinking about borders. The political materialities of borders does not presume the material aspect of borders but rather explores the ways in which any such materiality comes into being. Through ethnographic and philosophical explorations of the ontology of borders and its limitations from the perspective of materiality, this volume seeks to throw light on the interaction between the materiality of state borders and the non-material aspects of state-making. This enables a new understanding of borders as productive of the politics of materiality, on which both the state project rests, including its multifarious forms in the post-nation-state era.

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Migration containment and the genealogies of struggles and rescue

This book mobilises an abolitionist approach to border politics, with a focus on Europe. It argues that a critique of bordering mechanisms implies challenging the detractive logics of right, according to which upholding migrants’ rights is to the detriment of citizens’ rights. It uniquely combines carceral abolitionism literature, Black abolitionism and critical migration scholarship in order to question the acceptability and desirability of borders. Drawing on W. E. B. Du Bois’ concept of ‘abolition democracy’, it argues that border abolitionism means much more than calls for abolishing borders; rather, it involves rendering borders obsolete and articulating border struggles with other struggles for social justice. The book first investigates the confinement continuum that migrants are targeted by, drawing attention to hybrid spaces of confinement and to invisible forms of exploitation in refugee camps. Building on archival research and empirical material collected at the French–Italian Alpine border, the book then illustrates that an abolitionist view entails retracing the history of past struggles and how the memory of these have shaped current solidarity movements. Border abolitionism pushes us to rethink the right to mobility beyond an individualistic framework and to conceive it as part of struggles for the commons.