Not available in 2021/22
AN245      Half Unit
Borders and Boundaries: Ethnographic Approaches

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Mathijs Pelkmans OLD 5.08

Availability

This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law, BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in Social Anthropology, Exchange Programme for Students in Anthropology (Cape Town), Exchange Programme for Students in Anthropology (Fudan), Exchange Programme for Students in Anthropology (Melbourne) and Exchange Programme for Students in Anthropology (Tokyo). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

How do territorial borders influence human behaviour and thinking, and how, in turn, do people create, manage, and manipulate such borders? These question have become pressing with the intensification and politicisation of global interconnectedness. While a few decades ago the tearing down of the Berlin Wall seemed to herald a border-less world, todays the loudest politicians promise to create "huge, great, great, beautiful walls." This course studies the numerous tensions accompanying global interconnectedness. Why is it so difficult to make borders impermeable? How do smuggling networks operate? What does the world look like from the perspective of undocumented migrants? What are the effects of new border fortification technologies? What is it like to live in a gated community? Are people boundary-drawing creatures? Why do borders play a central role in images of utopia? Why is it silly yet productive to ask: where is the border between Europe and Asia? These and other questions will be discussed by situating ourselves ethnographically in the borderlands, potentially making us realise that "the frontier is all around us."

Teaching

10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT.

This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual lectures, classes and online interactive activities. The contact hours listed above are the minimum expected.

This course has a reading week in Week 6 of MT.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare discussion materials for presentation in the classes. Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT. 

Indicative reading

  • Andersson, R. (2014). Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe;
  • Berdahl, D. (1999). Where the world ended: Re-unification and identity in the German borderland;
  • Hastings, D., and T. Wilson (1999). Borders: Frontiers of identity, nation and state;
  • Khosravi, S. (2010). 'Illegal' traveller: an auto-ethnography of borders;
  • Low, S. (2004). Behind the gates: Life, security, and the pursuit of happiness in fortress America;
  • Pelkmans, M. (2006). Defending the border: identity, religion, and modernity in the Republic of Georgia;
  • Reeves, M. (2014). Border work: spatial lives of the state in rural Central Asia.

Assessment

Take-home assessment (100%) in the MT.

The take home exam will be held the week following the end of the MT.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2020/21: 35

Average class size 2020/21: 18

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication