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Semester 1

Geographies of the Border (GEGR10126)







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Course Summary

Borders are instrumental to our daily lives: they connect, divide, reorient, prohibit and facilitate relations in society, in politics, and in the economy. They are often associated with violence and instability (as on the US-Mexico border), and remain at the heart of many of our contemporary debates (including Brexit). This course will provide an introduction to some of the ways that geographers and other scholars have conceptualised borders, and will equip students with the analytical and theoretical tools to identify and critique the many ways that borders shape the world around them.

Course Description

In the past 30 years, the discipline of 'border studies' has developed partly in response to growing concerns around the role of borders and boundaries in fostering instability, conflict and human rights abuses. Intractable border conflicts stemming from decolonization processes, from post WWII reorganisation, from settler colonial expansionist agendas, and from internal civil conflict contribute to the need for scholars to explore, theorise and address the histories, politics and economics of borders and boundaries in the contemporary world.Borders take many forms, and exist across many scales. The most obvious type is the international border that defines the territory of one nation-state from another. Administrative borders that identify units within nation-states are also well understood. Yet borders exist beyond the confines of the political map, through what many scholars call 'border technologies' and 'border regimes'. Borders exist at the airport and at ferry ports, in law offices, courts of law, hospitals, schools, and other government facilities. They are enacted through increasingly systematised and digitized mechanisms, and include the use of biometric data, personal histories of health and mobility, economic means testing, and forms of social difference. Geographers like Louise Amoore, Reece Jones and Corey Johnson, and David Newman have written about the multiple technologies that are mobilised and triangulated for such purposes.Borders are often on the front page of the news media, sitting at the heart of issues around forced migration and asylum law, conflict and warfare, economic development, and nationalist political agendas. Some scholars, like Wendy Brown, Michael Dear, and Eyal Weizman, examine the physicality and architecture of bordering walls, while other, like Matthew Sparke, focus on the legal frameworks that allow some migrants through borders and prohibit others from crossing.This course will provide students with an introduction to the issues, debates, literature and theoretical underpinnings of the field of Border Studies. It will do so through a two-pronged approach: empirical case studies will be examined with reference to 1) key readings in critical theory and 2) an appropriate methodological approach.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

Additional Assessment Information

100% CourseworkBook Review (1,000 words): to be selected from a list of titles provided in the course syllabus - 30%Coursework Essay (3,000 words) - 70% Assessment deadlinesBook Review: Week 5Coursework Essay: Week 11

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