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7 February 2023 - 7 February 2023

6:00PM - 7:00PM

Holgate Room, Holgate House, Grey College

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An IAS Public Lecture by Professor Margit Fauser (Ruhr University Bochum)

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Image courtesy of Alex Presa on Unsplash

In sociology and anthropology social and symbolic boundaries are generally conceptualized to articulate how social divisions operate, implicitly locating these within defined territorial borders. In contrast, in classical (state-centered) border studies borders and boundaries are used rather interchangeably to refer to the territorial line. Drawing from Georg Simmel’s sociology of space and contemporary discussion in critical border studies, Professor Margit Fauser suggests considering the border and bordering as a crucial mechanism of ordering and othering and one that demarcates the social order of belonging. From this perspective the border is tied in with identity, citizenship, and belonging and its socio-spatial and territorial organization, reflecting legal, racialized, gendered, class, and other social divisions and their intersections. The border thus operates before and at the external line as well as inside the institutions and territory of the state, and thus concerns the scale of the city and urban space.


Still, the border is generally seen as it is controlled by the state. In turn, the city is the location of migrants’ inclusion, a view that is reaffirmed by the current local turn in migration management and its study. Yet, while not totally new, the spatial transformations of the European border regime increasingly shifted the border inside the state, and rescaled the border toward the city scale and urban space. Thereby, the border not merely stops, filters or selects the ‘welcomed’ from the ‘unwanted’. Rather, these processes of distinction, division and deterrence produce different forms and degrees of ‘internal exclusion’ and ‘differential inclusion’, as well as of territorial presence, deportation, and deportability.


In this talk, Professor Margit Fauser will focus on the internalization of the border and discuss its rescaling to the city and urban space. She consider a variety of sites, notably health, work, housing, family, and urban space and the work of local asylum and immigration bureaucracies, municipal registration offices and that of the police, and in public welfare services, as well as from a plethora of non-state actors, including employers, landlords, civil society organisations, non-government organizations and ordinary citizen. Against this backdrop, she will highlight three observations. First, she shows the simultaneous processes of the making and unmaking of the internal border. Second, she demonstrates how thereby different migrant groups are included into or excluded from different social fields and sites in highly differentiated ways that are shaped by intersectional categorizations of race and ethnicity, gender, class, or health, often cutting across legal status. Third, she discusses the strategies and mechanisms of this un/making and the diverging logics that legitimize the border, ranging from regulatory, pragmatic, and humanitarian positions to economic concerns and moral judgement.

This lecture is free and open to all. Registration is not required to attend in person.