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Risky Borders: Sex, Race, and Techniques of Border Control

This course critically analyzes the power dynamics of migration in the 21st century. Class texts will explore ‘risk’ through case studies of militarization and refugees; child trafficking and forced migration; the politics of commercial surrogacy; and international development and labor exploitation. Drawing on readings from the anthropology of development, international studies, and feminist technoscience studies, students will discuss and question discourses of ‘globalization’ that imagine a world of easy connections and flows, digitally and physically. We engage with multiple media forms, from academic texts, to films like Children of Men and the poetry of Warsan Shire, to explore how migration stories are gendered and racialized, with particular agencies and vulnerabilities, perils and pleasures. By understanding the techniques and technologies of bureaucracy, through examples like airport facial recognition software, so-called ‘smart border walls,’ and US counter-terrorism initiatives, students will also assess expert cultures dictating migration and development futures.