Not available in 2021/22
AN245 Half Unit
Borders and Boundaries: Ethnographic Approaches
This information is for the 2021/22 session.
Prof Mathijs Pelkmans OLD 5.08
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.
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."
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.
Students are expected to prepare discussion materials for presentation in the classes. Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.
- 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.
Take-home assessment (100%) in the MT.
The take home exam will be held the week following the end of the MT.
Course selection videos
Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Total students 2020/21: 34
Average class size 2020/21: 18
Capped 2020/21: No
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Application of information skills