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Porous Borders: Geography, Power and Techniques of, Advanced Topics in Middle East & North African Studies(390-3-20)


Emrah Yildiz
1819 Hinman Ave, #103
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 1-3pm

Meeting Info

Online: Tues, Thurs, 5:00PM - 6:20PM

Overview of class

At the advent of increased globalization some scholars have argued that the movements of capital, commodities and people across nation-states have rendered their borders increasingly more porous. The death of the nation-state was announced elsewhere. Yet, in the epoch of offshored refugee processing centers and border walls, this assumed porosity of borders begs a reexamination of broader geographies of power and tactics of movement. In this course, we examine the historically and geographically specific constellations of borders and ask: How does the border become an architecture of regulation that extends access to mobility to some and denies it to others? what is a border? Is it the physical line drawn between two states? Who gets to draw these lines? Is a state border a given result of a natural and ethnic contract or the terrain of constant contestation or negotiation in global and international affairs? This course examines these questions by proposing to reconceptualize border as equally the product of mobile social actors, contraband commodities and fluctuating values as they are of state policies aimed at managing these movements. By the end of the course students will be well-versed in diverse theories of space and informed to articulate what an attention to space and the relations of power inscribed in particular processes of territorial production can contribute to ethnographic and historical inquiry.

Registration Requirements

Attendance at first class required.

Teaching Method

We will run this course as a research seminar, with students signing up in groups of 2 or 3 to co-facilitate discussions, and everyone taking part in discussion each zoom meeting and on the canvas site. All writing assignments are to be formatted as double-spaced 12-font Times New Roman with regular margins. There will be two writing assignments (each 6-8 pages) in this course.

Evaluation Method

The final grade will be composed of 50% seminar contributions and 50% writing assignments?#1=25%, #2=25% Because we are meeting only once a week, each absence not due to illness [with clinic/telemedicine note] or emergency will take 10% off your seminar contributions grade. A late paper will lose 10% for each late day after the deadline.

Seminar contributions include:

(1) Regular attendance in zoom meetings and contribution to discussions (10%).

(2) Reading responses (25%): Please post responses of no more than 2 paragraphs to the online discussion board no later than midnight on the night prior to class in order to allow everyone else to read and reflect on them. Please do not spend time summarizing the readings; just identify one thread of the argument that intrigued you; explain why it intrigued you and pose a question born out of that intrigue that we could discuss in class. You may skip two sessions for posting?out of 8, excluding the first and the last sessions devoting to logistics and seminar participants' presentations. By the end of the course, you should have written, 12 posts. Feel free to post more than one comment/response in one week, but you will need to post on 6 distinct weeks throughout the quarter.

(3) Co-facilitating discussion (15%): You will be expected to speak for no more than 15 minutes during which you should offer critical assessment of the week's readings that link them to previous discussions, address the discussion board postings of your classmates, and pose some questions to the class to start off discussion. Please do not spend time summarizing the readings. Instead the presenters are expected to engage with one or more of arguments in the texts, identifying a problem or ambiguity left unresolved, probing the texts' methodological basis or categories of analysis, and so on. The important point is that the presentation is structured around a discernible argument that could serve as the starting point for our in-class discussions.

Class Materials (Required)

All required and recommended texts with the exception of the book-length manuscripts can be found under files on the course website.

Required Texts

Ieva Jusionyte, 2018. Threshold: Emergency Responders on the US-Mexico Border. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN-13: 978-0520297180

David McMurray, 2001. In and Out of Morocco: Smuggling and Migration in a Frontier Boomtown. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press | ISBN-13: 978-0679727835

Madeleine Reeves, 2014. Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. | ISBN-13: 978-0-8014-4997-0

Desk Copies: If you would like me to order desk copies for you, be sure to provide all of the following information for each book: Author, Publisher, Title, Edition/Year, ISBN #, Paperback/Hardcover, # of Desk Copies Needed

Class Attributes

Social & Behavioral Sciences Distro Area
Synchronous:Class meets remotely at scheduled time