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Borders And Migration


This course offers an introduction to the causes and consequences of international migration and examines how various countries have responded to it. We begin by considering the myriad reasons why people move from one place to another and analyze the different strategies through which political authorities have tried to simultaneously facilitate and obstruct migratory flows. The tension between mobility and containment is a central feature of migration politics.
Our first set of readings offer a broad, historical overview of the relationship between states and migrants within the dynamics of global capitalism. Students will learn about patterns of regular and irregular migration, including economic and undocumented migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, and evaluate the impact of war and climate change on human displacement. We will also investigate the efficacy of border walls and other tactics of containment and control such detention and deportation, surveillance and documentation, and the production of “illegality.”
We then consider how migration transforms both sending and receiving countries and examine how different countries accommodate (or fail to accommodate) newcomers to their territories. The growing racial, religious, and linguistic diversity generated by international migratory flows continues to generate fierce debates over national identity, social cohesion, economic prosperity, and political stability in many parts of the word.
In order to make sense of these debates we will analyze different regimes of immigrant integration, incorporation, and assimilation and evaluate the meaning of citizenship, social membership, and belonging as it pertains to the lived experience of migrants. Our readings examine how intersecting axes of identity such as race, religion, ethnicity, cultural heritage and migratory history underpin durable structures of socio-economic inequality.

Funding Agency

Aydelotte Foundation

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Professor Osman Balkan was awarded an Aydelotte Curricular Grant from the Aydelotte Foundation for use in his spring 2022 course, Borders and Migration (POLS 31). The course syllabus, assignment instructions, and student examples are made freely available here courtesy of the author.