As a society, we pay particular attention to borders when incidents such as children separated from their asylum-seeking parents or tear-gas being used to deter entry throw the legal divide between two nation states into sharp relief. But seldom do we stop to think about what a border is, or when and why some borders are defended more aggressively than others.
This course looks at the modern history of borders, broadly construed, from legally-sanctioned ghettoes in Europe, to national boundaries between sovereign countries, to supranational agreements such as the European Union. It considers how borders are erected and dissolved, both legally and materially. And it queries the legal, diplomatic, social, and ethical considerations that ensue from drawing a line between one side and another, and defending that line. We will also consider how actors within societies create internal (often racialized) boundary lines such as “gated communities” or “redlined zones,” that are sometimes extra-legal or even illegal, but have profound effects on the everyday lives of individuals and groups.