Should Borders Separate or Connect?

Should Borders Separate or Connect?


In our political and media narratives, we often operate with binary notions: secure or insecure borders, legal or illegal immigration. Ruben Andersson, an anthropologist and Associate Professor at Oxford University who researches undocumented migration from West Africa to Southern Europe, challenges this way of thinking.

Andersson immerses himself in the reality of migration, accompanying migrants, border guards, and aid workers to present the impact of the migration control industry from their perspectives.

Apart from the usual three questions, we’ve linked to two full chapters from Andersson’s book, Illegality, Inc., winner of the 2015 British Sociological Association/BBC Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award.

Thinking of borders as points of connection

Will deals like the one with Turkey reduce migration?

Let's talk about solutions

Recommended Reading

Ruben’s book Illegality, Inc. is based on his research on the trail of undocumented migration from West Africa into Southern Europe. We’ve secured permission from the University of California Press to share two chapters, Hunter and Prey, on the spread of the border control industry deep into West Africa, and The Border Spectacle, on the construction of the notion of the illegal migrant. Click here to view.

This recent Quartz article summarises the futility of borders and fences in deterring migration, from 2005 to today.

Did you know the world now has more border barriers than at any time in modern history? Raising Barriers, a new Washington Post series, examines barriers through words, video, and sound.

Resources hand-picked by Ruben:

Border Patrol Nation, a book by Todd Miller, as an important comparison between the US border and what’s happening in Europe.

A global view from Border Vigils, by Jeremy Hardin.

The award-winning documentary, Fire at Sea, which captures life on the Italian island of Lampedusa, a frontline in the European migrant crisis.

Ruben Andersson

Ruben is Associate Professor at Oxford University’s Department of International Development and Associate Researcher at Stockholm University’s Department of Anthropology. His research focuses on migration, borders, and security. His book, Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe, documents the vast industry built around undocumented migration. Currently, he is investigating the risks and danger associated with international intervention in Mali and the wider sub-Saharan Sahel region.

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