351 Migration, Borders and Space: Decolonial Approaches

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2 or Year 3
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

What is migration? Is this the ‘age of migration’? Just as new forms and flows of movement – from people, to capital, to goods and information – point us towards an increasingly mobile world, so do we witness the proliferation and fortification of borders on the global scale, and the extension and diffusion of border policies, practices, logics and technologies into the local spaces of everyday life. Far from being abstract lines at the edges of nation-states borders form a central technology in the governance of human life; structuring not only the right to move but also the right to stay put, and shaping everyday experiences of space, surveillance, access to resources, and degrees of exposure to multiple forms of harm. In this module, we will examine how the bio-political control of migration is practised at borders and on bodies, shaping migrant and refugee journeys, subjectivities, and practices of 'resistance'. We will seek to understand borders through an anthropological interrogation of what borders do, and of how border regimes produce ‘race’, gender and class both as structures of power and as everyday experiences. This course will explore these issues by critically engaging with the ways in which migration has been understood historically and in contemporary times, introducing different theories, approaches and disciplinary angles for discussion. Through ethnographic explorations of borders, sovereignties, and governmentalities of migration across spatial and temporal contexts we will consider what a decolonial approach to migration and migration studies might look like.   


Guided option for students on:

  • BA Social Anthropology (Year 2 or Year 3)
  • BA Social Anthropology and... (Year 3)
  • BA Global Development (Year 2)

This module is also a School-wide Open Option (Year 2 or Year 3). No prerequisites.


Suggested reading

Representative  readings:
  • Anderson B. (2013) Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Control, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Introduction.
  • Appadurai, A. (2006) Fear of small numbers: An essay on the geography of anger. Durham, N.C.; London: Duke University Press.
  • Crawley, H., Skleparis, D. (2018) Refugees, Migrants, Neither, Both: Categorical Fetishism and the Politics of Bounding in Europe’s ‘Migration Crisis.’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 44, 48–64.
  • De Genova, N. and N. Peutz (2010) The Deportation Regime: sovereignty, space and the freedom of movement. Duke University Press. Introduction.
  • Fassin, D. (2011) “Policing Borders, Producing Boundaries. The Governmentality of Immigration in Dark Times”. Annual Review of Anthropology, 40, 213-226.
  • Ioanide, P. (2015) The emotional politics of racism: How feelings trump facts in an era of colorblindness. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • Iosif, K. and Robins, S. (2017) “Missing migrants: deaths at sea and unidentified bodies in Lesbos” in: Madeleine Hurd, Hastings Donnan and Carolin Leutloff-Grandits, eds., Migrating Borders and Moving Times: Temporality and the Crossing of Borders in Europe (pp. 157-175). Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Khosravi, S. (2010) “Illegal Traveller”: an auto-ethnography of borders. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Navaro-Yashin, Y. (2008) “Life Is Dead Here”: Sensing the Political in “No Man’s Land”. In
  • Panourgiá N. & Marcus G. (Eds.), Ethnographica Moralia: Experiments in Interpretive Anthropology (pp. 168-187). New York: Fordham University.
  • Rosa, J. & Bonilla, Y. (2017) Deprovincializing Trump, decolonizing diversity, and unsettling anthropology. American Ethnologist, 44, 201–208.
  • Salih, R. (2017). 'Bodies that walk, bodies that talk, bodies that love. Palestinian women refugees, affectivity and the politics of the ordinary.' Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, 49 (3). pp. 742-760.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules