Critical Border Studies Initiative

Supported by CEMFOR this initiative started during the Fall 2017. Critical Border Studies Initiative is a forum for interdisciplinary studies on borders. We use border studies to scrutinize practices such as debordering, rebordering, securitization and crossing of borders.

The Initiative is a network for academics, artists, and activists who are interested in border studies. Critical Border Studies Initiative aims to push forward collaborative research projects; organize conferences and workshops; create a forum for contacts and collaboration between researchers. Hosted by CEMFOR the Initiative is affiliated with the Engaging Vulnerability research program at Uppsala University and the Department of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University.


Shahram Khosravi, Professor, CEMFOR, Uppsala University; Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University.
Mahmoud Keshavarz, Post-doc, Engaging Vulnerability research program, Uppsala University.


Date: 4 October. Location: Humanistiska teatern/Engelska parken, Uppsala University. Time: 15:00-17:00

Who was Franz Fanon and what is his legacy today? Of yesterday and today, documentary maker Hassane Mezine gives voice to men and women who knew and shared with the flint warrior, according to Aimé Césaire's beautiful formula, privileged moments during the struggle but also in a family and friendly context.
Fanon died in December 1961 but his reflection irrigated numerous revolutionary fields throughout the world.
What view of this thinker and action man, have those who continue the fight today on different fronts against injustice and arbitrariness.
The Director takes the viewer on a journey, from the homeland to the hubs of political and social struggles passing through the land where he rests.
North and South of the world, activists talk of their struggle and reflect on their rapports with Frantz Fanon.
The transmission is thus established between the historical dimension and the diverse contemporary spaces swept by the Fanonian breath.

Organizer: Critical Border Studies/Centre for Multidciplinary Studies on Racism (CEMFOR), Uppsala Universitet och CinemAfrica

Film | An urgent, necessary homage: “Fanon: Yesterday, Today” by Hassane Mezine



Date: 6 March
Time: 15:15-17:00
Venue: 12-0076, Engelska parken, Uppsala UNiversity

Ranabir Samaddar is the Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group, India. He belongs to the critical school of thinking and is considered as one of the foremost theorists in the field of migration and forced migration studies. His writings on the nation state, migration, labour, and urbanization have signaled a new turn in critical post-colonial thinking. Among his influential works are: Memory, Identity, Power: Politics in the Junglemahals, 1890-1950 (Orient Longman, 1998), The Marginal Nation: Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal (Sage, 1999), and (co-authored) Beyond Kolkata: Rajarhat and the Dystopia of Urban Imagination (Routledge, 2014). His latest work is Karl Marx and the Postcolonial Age (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017).

CEMFOR, Critical Border Studies Initiative in collabration with Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre.

Foto: Duke University


29 May. Time is announced later. Venue: The Royal Academy of Art.

In association with Kungliga Konst Akademin (The Royal Academy of Arts).

More information coming soon.


Guest lecture - SEEING: THE PROBLEM

Date and time: 23 October, 15.00–17.00 
​Location: Ihresalen (Uppsala University, Engelska parken/English Park Campus)

Ruth Wilson Gilmore is Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Director for Center for Place, Culture, and Politics, Graduate Center at City University of New York.

 "What if photographs depict what should not have been?" – Jacqueline Goldsby 

I have been inconsistent in my relationship with and treatment of moving and still photographic images that depict what should not have been. In this lecture I will first briefly describe two projects in which visual documentation of premature violent death played a central role in the effort to organize evidence for political persuasion. Then, after showing the fragility of the projects’ underlying assumptions, I will explore social features and uses that shaped and shadowed the democratization of photographic image-making. Finally I will offer the outlines of a counter-narrative to highlight how we might usefully consider the co-constitutive interdependencies of consciousness, historical geography, and the machine, in the process of materializing objects that inspire subjects in struggle. 

Language: English. Organized by Critical Border Studies Initiative. More info here


Symposium: Seeing Like A Smuggler

25 October 2018, 9:0016:00
​Location: Universitetshuset, Sal VIII, Uppsala University


This symposium aims to discuss, examine and share ideas that move beyond the common understanding of smuggling as a criminal and mafia controlled enterprise through posing complex but necessary questions such as:

– How does a smuggler see states, borders and economy beyond the ways in which the state wishes us to see and recognise them?
– What is the liminal spaces appearing between formal and informal economies in the context of smuggling?
– How does smuggling rely on the vulnerability of the material and technological infrastructures by producing shadow temporary infrastructures?
– What does smuggling teach us about states, borders and mobility beyond the dominant legal frameworks?

In a world with an increasing asymmetrical access to freedom of movement in particular and to unequal access to labour, health care and education in general, those who find themselves in vulnerable conditions, rely on irregular services of accessing these rights. Whether for those migrants and refugees whose possibilities to claim asylum and residence have been drastically shrunk since early 1990s, or for border porters who carry heavy package of goods on their back across borders to earn an income, smuggling has been a social, political and economic endeavour that grows alongside the state and its border politics. While it is seen as a criminal, exploitative and sometimes in the words of authorities a purely evil activity, smuggling in practice is not necessarily a destructive force. Smuggling emerges from certain ways of knowing states, markets and the borders regulating them. At the same time, smuggling generates specific knowledge about these seemingly solid and permanent entities. In this sense, smuggling is a specific practice that is conducted through a series of concrete acts, strategies, techniques and planning. Consequently, smuggling might teach us about the state and its discursive and material politics of bordering.

Part of Critical Border Studies, this event is co-sponsored by the Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism (CEMFOR) and Engaging Vulnerability Research Programme (EV), both at Uppsala University.

Read more and register at:
​Program and poster can be found here.


Previous Seminar: Snapshots of the Border Walls

Date: 17 september 2018, 15.00-17.00.
Venue: Spelbomskan. Aula Magna, Stockholm universitet.


With Minimal Force
Adania Shibli (Writer/Birzeit University)

In light of the political, economic, spatial, and social realms in Palestine/Israel, many art works that were created over the last two decade, had been shaped by colonial and power techniques implemented by the Israeli authorities and military. Such techniques are in particular targeting the movement of Palestinians, and introduced either as daily routine or collective punishment. This seminar will discuss examples from the field of art, and how visual art works and even literary texts do interact with such techniques and subvert the very relations they generate by redefining individuals’ positions.

Privilege, Space and Art at the US-Mexico Border
Markus Heide (Uppsala University)

I will introduce sites at the US-Mexico borderline that provide space for the performance of activities of social privilege, such as tourism, international trade, sports, and the arts. These places, in their distinct ways, create an atmosphere of being removed from the immediate perils and evils of the borderlands: illegal trade and undocumented immigration. At the same time the three places are shaped by the militarization of the U.S.’ Southern border since the 1990s and the post-9/11 security regime: The closed and guarded fence and border patrol agents are visible and mark the places as part of the border blockade. Although the three distinct places contribute to cross-border contacts and exchange, they, as well as their use by border people and visitors, contribute to bordering practices and to normalizing the militarized border. How are forms of mobility constructed in the borderlands? What kind of mobilities are welcome by the border regimes? What kind of hierarchies of mobility do the controlled borderlands create?


Seminar series is a collaboration between CEMFOR, Uppsala University, Engaging Vulnerability, Uppsala University and Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University.

22 MARCH: "Bordescaping: Images, Imaginations and Practices of Border Making". Chiara Brambilla, University of Bergamo.
Venue: 7-0042, Building 7, Engelska parken, Uppsala University. Time: 13.00 -15.00 

24 APRIL: "Managing Animal Movements and Quarantine Across the Mediterranean: Outline of a Parallel Border Regime". Sara Green, University of Helsinki.
Venue: The B-House, floor 6, room B600, Stockholm University. Time: 13.00-15.00.

12 MAJ: "Väntans proportioner: Ett seminarium om konst, forskning och migration". "Waitance proportions: A seminar on art, research and migration". Paula Urbano, Annika Lindberg, Shahram Khosravi.
Venue: ID:I Galleri, Tjärhovsgatan 19, Stockholm.


Last modified: 2023-10-16