Wiley.com
Print this page Share

Borderlands: Towards an Anthropology of the Cosmopolitan Condition

ISBN: 978-0-7456-9680-5
208 pages
August 2016, Polity
Borderlands: Towards an Anthropology of the Cosmopolitan Condition (0745696805) cover image

Description

The images of migrants and refugees arriving in precarious boats on the shores of southern Europe, and of the makeshift camps that have sprung up in Lesbos, Lampedusa, Calais and elsewhere, have become familiar sights on television screens around the world. But what do we know about the border places these liminal zones between countries and continents that have become the focus of so much attention and anxiety today, and what do we know about the individuals who occupy these places?

In this timely book, anthropologist Michel Agier addresses these questions and examines the character of the borderlands that emerge on the margins of nation-states. Drawing on his ethnographic fieldwork, he shows that borders, far from disappearing, have acquired a new kind of centrality in our societies, becoming reference points for the growing numbers of people who do not find a place in the countries they wish to reach. They have become the site for a new kind of subject, the border dweller, who is both inside and outside , enclosed on the one hand and excluded on the other, and who is obliged to learn, under harsh conditions, the ways of the world and of other people. In this respect, the lives of migrants, even in the uncertainties or dangers of the borderlands, tell us something about the condition in which everyone is increasingly living today, a cosmopolitan condition in which the experience of the unfamiliar is more common and the relation between self and other is in constant renewal.
See More

Table of Contents

  • Contents
  • Introduction: The Migrant, the Border and the World
  • Blocked at the border
  • Indifference and solidarities
  • Borders and walls
  • Borderlands and their inhabitants: a banal cosmopolitism
  • Part I: Decentring the World
  • Chapter 1. The Elementary Forms of the Border
  • The border as centre of reflection
  • Temporal, social and spatial dimensions of the border ritual
  • Community and locality: the border as social fact
  • The sacred space in Salvador de Bahia
  • The symbolic construction of the border
  • An anthropology of/in the border
  • Founding, naming, limiting
  • Borderlands as uncertain places: Tocqueville at Saginaw
  • Interval time: carnivals and deceleration
  • Everything that the border is the place of
  • Borders and identity
  • Border situations and liminality
  • Chapter 2. The World as ‘Problem’
  • War at the borders
  • Is the world a problem? Cosmopolitical reality and realpolitik
  • Economic globalization and the weakening of nation-states
  • Landscapes, routes and networks: the shape of the world
  • Violence at the border: the outside of the nation
  • The ‘border police’, or what remains of nation-states
  • The fiction of ‘national indigeneity’ and its naturalization
  • Expulsions trace the boundary of national identity
  • Humanitarian spaces as partial delocalization of sovereignty
  • Walls of war
  • Colonial war, war on migrants
  • Questions about the ‘desire for walls’
  • Chapter 3. Border Dwellers and Borderlands: Studies of banal cosmopolitism
  • The border dwellers: figures and places of relative foreignness
  • Wandering as adventure and the border encampment
  • Becoming a pariah and living in a camp
  • Four ‘métèques’, and the squat as border
  • The foreigner in his labyrinth, or the tiers-instruit
  • Being-in-the-world on the border: a new cosmopolitan condition
  • An ordinary cosmopolitism
  • Part Two: The Decentred Subject
  • Chapter 4. Questions of Method: Decentring Reconsidered Today
  • A critical moment: the contemporary turn in anthropology
  • The end of the ‘Great Divide’
  • From ethnic group to ethnic identities
  • Identity-based essentialisms and ontologies
  • Decentring reconceived
  • Beyond cultural decentring
  • The construction of epistemological decentring
  • Political decentring. The question of the other-as-subject
  • A contemporary and situational anthropology
  • WYSIWYG: what you see is what there is
  • The contribution of situational anthropology
  • Chapter 5. Civilization, Culture, Race: Three Explorations in Identity
  • Civilization as hyper-border: mirrors of Africa
  • The 1950s: ‘One civilization accused by another!’
  • 1980s and 1990s: deconstructions, reinventions
  • A global and diffuse African presence
  • The migration of spirits: mobilities and identity-based cultures
  • The devil, the priest and black culture (Colombian Pacific)
  • The Tunda as urban monster (Charco Azul, Cali)
  • Borders and temporalities of identity-based cultures
  • Race and racism: how can one be black?
  • Republic and racial thought in France
  • Brazil: from ‘racial democracy’ to ‘multicultural nation’
  • Citizenship without identity
  • Escaping the identity trap
  • Chapter 6. Logics and Politics of the Subject
  • An anthropology of the subject
  • From person to individual: ethnology and sociology
  • From subjectification to subjects: anthropology and philosophy
  • The subject in situation: an ethnographic proposal
  • The decentred subject: three situational analyses
  • The ritual subject, or the subject as duplication of self and world
  • The aesthetic subject, or the care of self and the subject as author
  • The political subject, or the subject as a demand for citizenship
  • Moments and politics of the other-subject
  • Conclusion: Towards an Anthropology of the Cosmopolitan Condition
  • Notes
  • Index
See More

Author Information

Michel Agier is Director of the French Institute of Development Research and a Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris
See More

Reviews

In Borderlands, Michel Agier epitomizes what makes his standing unique in contemporary research: nothing less than the creation of a whole disciplinary field, empirical and theoretical, of urgent importance for our tragic present, the general anthropology of the displaced human in its multiple figures and locations, reversing traditional assessments of mobility and settlement, identity and strangeness, borders and neighbourhoods. He provides the missing link between the cosmopolitisms of yesterday and those we need for tomorrow.
Étienne Balibar, Université de Paris X Nanterre
See More

Related Titles

Back to Top