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 ? 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.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • Polity Press
  • United Kingdom
  • 9780745696836

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 `meteques', 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
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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 ? Nanterre
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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), Paris
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