Borderlands : Towards an Anthropology of the Cosmopolitan Condition

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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 i?1/2 these liminal zones between countries and continents i?1/2 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 i?1/2insidei?1/2 and i?1/2outsidei?1/2, 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 i?1/2cosmopolitan conditioni?1/2 in which the experience of the unfamiliar is more common and the relation between self and other is in constant more

Product details

  • Electronic book text | 208 pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • Polity Press
  • United Kingdom
  • 0745696821
  • 9780745696829

About Michel Agier

Michel Agier is Director of the French Institute of Development Research and a Director of Studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Parisshow more

Table of contents

ContentsIntroduction: The Migrant, the Border and the WorldBlocked at the borderIndifference and solidaritiesBorders and wallsBorderlands and their inhabitants: a banal cosmopolitismPart I: Decentring the WorldChapter 1. The Elementary Forms of the BorderThe border as centre of reflectionTemporal, social and spatial dimensions of the border ritualCommunity and locality: the border as social factThe sacred space in Salvador de BahiaThe symbolic construction of the borderAn anthropology of/in the borderFounding, naming, limitingBorderlands as uncertain places: Tocqueville at SaginawInterval time: carnivals and decelerationEverything that the border is the place ofBorders and identityBorder situations and liminalityChapter 2. The World as `Problem'War at the bordersIs the world a problem? Cosmopolitical reality and realpolitikEconomic globalization and the weakening of nation-statesLandscapes, routes and networks: the shape of the worldViolence at the border: the outside of the nationThe `border police', or what remains of nation-statesThe fiction of `national indigeneity' and its naturalizationExpulsions trace the boundary of national identityHumanitarian spaces as partial delocalization of sovereigntyWalls of warColonial war, war on migrantsQuestions about the `desire for walls'Chapter 3. Border Dwellers and Borderlands: Studies of banal cosmopolitismThe border dwellers: figures and places of relative foreignnessWandering as adventure and the border encampmentBecoming a pariah and living in a campFour `meteques', and the squat as borderThe foreigner in his labyrinth, or the tiers-instruitBeing-in-the-world on the border: a new cosmopolitan conditionAn ordinary cosmopolitismPart Two: The Decentred SubjectChapter 4. Questions of Method: Decentring Reconsidered TodayA critical moment: the contemporary turn in anthropologyThe end of the `Great Divide'From ethnic group to ethnic identitiesIdentity-based essentialisms and ontologiesDecentring reconceivedBeyond cultural decentringThe construction of epistemological decentringPolitical decentring. The question of the other-as-subjectA contemporary and situational anthropologyWYSIWYG: what you see is what there isThe contribution of situational anthropologyChapter 5. Civilization, Culture, Race: Three Explorations in IdentityCivilization as hyper-border: mirrors of AfricaThe 1950s: `One civilization accused by another!'1980s and 1990s: deconstructions, reinventionsA global and diffuse African presenceThe migration of spirits: mobilities and identity-based culturesThe devil, the priest and black culture (Colombian Pacific)The Tunda as urban monster (Charco Azul, Cali)Borders and temporalities of identity-based culturesRace and racism: how can one be black?Republic and racial thought in FranceBrazil: from `racial democracy' to `multicultural nation'Citizenship without identityEscaping the identity trapChapter 6. Logics and Politics of the SubjectAn anthropology of the subjectFrom person to individual: ethnology and sociologyFrom subjectification to subjects: anthropology and philosophyThe subject in situation: an ethnographic proposalThe decentred subject: three situational analysesThe ritual subject, or the subject as duplication of self and worldThe aesthetic subject, or the care of self and the subject as authorThe political subject, or the subject as a demand for citizenshipMoments and politics of the other-subjectConclusion: Towards an Anthropology of the Cosmopolitan ConditionNotesIndexshow more

Review quote

?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.? Etienne Balibar, Universite de Paris X ? Nanterreshow more

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