Borders and Violence

Migration, Borders, Diaspora - Lecture 6

Lecturer: Dr Arshad Isakjee

9 May 2022

This lecture elaborates borders as sites of violence. In the contemporary world we often see and hear about migrants suffering and sometimes dying along border zones – including in maritime spaces such as in the Mediterranean.

At other times abuses are reported at land borders or in reception centres or formal and informal camps that migrants might reside in. This lecture uses the work of Johan Galtung among others, to work through what we mean by violence – and specifically structural violence, in relation to borders.

Using examples of border violence in Europe from case studies in Northern France and the Balkans, the lecture explores why border violence takes place, in what ways it manifests and how it relates to race and processes of racialisation.


  • Bialasiewicz, L. (2012). Off-shoring and out-sourcing the borders of Europe: Libya and EU border work in the Mediterranean. Geopolitics, 17(4), 843-866.
  • Davies T, Isakjee A and Dhesi S (2017) Violent inaction: The necropolitical experience of refugees in Europe. Antipode 49(5):1263–1284
  • Galtung J (1969) Violence, peace, and peace research. Journal of Peace Research 6(3):167–191
  • Isakjee, A., Davies, T., Obradović‐Wochnik, J., & Augustová, K. (2020). Liberal violence and the racial borders of the European Union. Antipode, 52(6), 1751-1773.
  • Jones, R. (2016). Violent borders: Refugees and the right to move. Verso Books.Li T M (2010) To make live or let die? Rural dispossession and the protection of surplus populations. Antipode 41(1):66–93
  • Van Isacker, T. (2019). Bordering through domicide: Spatializing citizenship in Calais. Citizenship Studies, 23(6), 608-626.
  • Walia, H. (2021). Border and rule: global migration, capitalism, and the rise of Racist nationalism. Haymarket Books.


Questions for Disussion

  1. Why does border violence occur?
  2. What is the relationship between colonialism, borders and violence