Alexandra Schwell, Visiting Professor, Department of Cultural Anthropology, University of Hamburg

Borders as Imaginations and Institutions of European Security

One of most important symbolic function of national borders is based on the fact that they promise security to the inhabitants of a specific territory. Border controls and the idea of the nation state are inextricably intertwined. Crossing the border thus for the nation state becomes an instrument of power as one of the main purposes of borders is to categorise and to classify travellers, migrants, those who are welcome and those who are not.

In summer 2015, the Dublin regulations have been virtually suspended. As a result, more and more states have been reinstating border controls and started building fences at internal Schengen borders, sometimes openly contradicting the principles of the Schengen zone. Simultaneously, right wing movements and threat scenarios are on the rise, increasing an already ongoing securitization of the Muslim Other. 

Against the backdrop of past fieldwork and recent examples, the presentation will elaborate on the meaning of borders and border functions and on imaginations, institutions and performances of European security and fear.

Dr. Alexandra Schwell is Visiting Professor at the Department of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Hamburg. She obtained her PhD in Comparative Cultural and Social Anthropology from the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). Research interests include border studies, anthropology of security, anthropology of the political, and Europeanization. She was work package leader in the FREE project (“Football Research in an Enlarged Europe”, FP7) and is subproject leader within the “Doing World Heritage” project (funded by the Austrian Ministry of Science, Research, and Economy).

All seminars in the series.