Miriam Ticktin, Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology, The New School for Social Research, New York

Border Walls: Transnational Design and the Politics of Humanity

In an age where people and things are circulating over an increasingly wide geographic range and with ever-greater speed – the refugee “crisis” in Europe is one such example of people on the move – we also see an invigorated commitment to technologies that confine movement – there are now 70 border walls or fences worldwide. Yet how do these walls work? In this talk, I am concerned by the ways in which border walls and zones come not simply to defend (i.e. certain territories), but to define – that is, to shape or alter categories of natural and human kinds. I will discuss the role and design of walls, and suggest that borders walls – such as those at the border of US-Mexico, Spain and Morocco, and France and the UK – and all the surrounding and transnational auxiliary technologies they harness, work by shifting how we understand different kinds of beings, ultimately rendering certain kinds killable.

Miriam Ticktin is Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research. Her research has focused in the broadest sense on what it means to make political claims in the name of a universal humanity. She is the author of Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France (University of California Press, 2011) and In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care (co-edited with Ilana Feldman, Duke University Press, 2010), along with many other articles and book chapters. She is a founding editor of the journal Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development. Ticktin is currently at work on two related book projects: 1) a short book on innocence as a political concept, and how it produces an unending search for purity; 2) a book on practices of containment at the border, from border walls to spaces of quarantine.

Discussant: Vanessa Barker, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University

Program för Forum för forskning om transnationell migration och CEIFO-seminarier vårterminen 2018.