ASTK18327U Migration and Border Politics in the EU

Volume 2020/2021



!! The structure of this course will be blended !! 


Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 15 ECTS

Master student: 15 ECTS


The large number of border-crossings towards and through Europe 2015-2016 has sparked heated debates all over the EU about the “European question” (De Genova): who is supposed to be part of “our” political community and who is not? Who are we and who are the Others? And how is this to be politically regulated? In this seminar, we will explore “the border” as a site where social and political struggles around mobility, identity, rights, participation and belonging become observable, and ask about the potential of “migration” as a force of social transformations. We will do so by looking at developments surrounding the “EU border crisis” 2015-2016 in particular and (irregularized) migration to EUrope in general.
We will critically discuss different theoretical approaches to borders and migration in IR and the broader social sciences and humanities, and engage with the implications they have for studying the politics of borders and migration. We will situate the “border crisis” against the background of earlier and later developments of migration and border politics in the EU. Moreover, we will examine the assemblage of actors, institutions, practices, discourses and technologies arising in the tension between (irregularized) border-crossings and their (attempted) control. In doing so, we will shed light on different aspects, such as discursive struggles over identity and belonging in EUropean media and policy discourses, “new” actors and practices (i.e. refugee activism, voluntarism, civil search and rescue), digital re-bordering, the externalization of border control to origin and transit countries, or the resurgence of right-populist movements and parties. 


At the end of this class, students will have acquired an interdisciplinary framework to understand and analyze the politics of migration and borders in the EU.

Learning Outcome


  • Describe developments of migration and border politics in the EU before, during and after the “border crisis” 2015-2016
  • Understand and explain different theoretical approaches to borders and migration in IR and the broader social sciences and humanities 
  • Assess their implications for the study of migration and border politics



  • Present and explain different aspects of migration and border politics in the EU
  • Analyze developments surrounding the “EU border crisis” 2015-2016
  • Apply an interdisciplinary framework to study migration and border politics



  • Critical thinking across different disciplines
  • Constructing and defending a coherent argument, based on selection of relevant concepts and the best supporting data
  • Writing and presenting in a convincing and clear manner


This list is subject to change. A detailed list of required readings will be provided well ahead of the start of the course.


  • Adler-Nissen, Rebecca, Katrine Emilie Andersen, and Lene Hansen. 2020. “Images, Emotions, and International Politics: The Death of Alan Kurdi.” Review of International Studies 46(1): 75–95.
  • Balibar, Étienne. 2003. We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Carrera, Sergio, Steven Blockmans, Daniel Gros, and Elspeth Guild. 2015. “EU Responses to the 2015 Refugee Crisis.” Ceps Essay(20).
  • Chouliaraki, Lilie, and Rafal Zaborowski. 2017. “Voice and Community in the 2015 Refugee Crisis: A Content Analysis of News Coverage in Eight European Countries.” International Communication Gazette 79(6–7): 613–35. 
  • Cuttitta, Paolo. 2018. “Repoliticization Through Search and Rescue? Humanitarian NGOs and Migration Management in the Central Mediterranean.” Geopolitics 23(3).
  • De Genova, Nicholas. 2013. “Spectacles of Migrant ‘Illegality.’” Ethnic and Racial Studies 36(7): 1180–98. 
  • De Genova, Nicholas. 2017. “The Borders of ‘Europe’ and the European Question.” In The Borders of "Europe”. Autonomy of Migration, Tactics of Bordering, ed. Nicholas Genova. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • De Genova, Nicholas et al. 2016. “Europe / Crisis: New Keywords of ‘the Crisis’ in and of ‘Europe’.’” Near Futures Online, Zone Books: 7–15. 
  • Guiraudon, Virginie. 2018. “The 2015 Refugee Crisis Was Not a Turning Point: Explaining Policy Inertia in EU Border Control.” European Political Science 17(1): 151–60.
  • Heller, Charles, Lorenzo Pezzani, and Maurice Stierl. 2017. “Disobedient Sensing and Border Struggles at the Maritime Frontiers of EUrope.” spheres - Journal for Digital Cultures 4. 
  • Hess, Sabine. 2018. “Border as Conflict Zone.” In Migration. Changing Concepts, Critical Approaches, Concepts for the Study of Culture (CSC), eds. Doris Bachmann-Medick and Jens Kugele. Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 83–100. 
  • Huysmans, Jef, and Vicky Squire. 2017. “Migration and Security.” In Routledge Handbook of Security Studies, Routledge handbooks, eds. Myriam Dunn Cavelty and Thierry Balzacq. London; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 161–71.
  • Lemberg-Pedersen, Martin. 2018. “Manufacturing Displacement. Externalization and Postcoloniality in European Migration Control.” Global Affairs 0(0): 1–25.
  • Münch, Sybille. 2017. “EU Migration and Asylum Policies.” In Handbook of European Policies. Interpretive Approaches to the EU, eds. Hubert Heinelt and Sybille Münch. EDWARD ELGAR PUBLISHING, 306-330.
  • Scheel, Stephan. 2019. Autonomy of Migration? Appropriating Mobility within Biometric Border Regimes. London: Routledge.
  • Scheel, Stephan. 2020. “Biopolitical Bordering: Enacting Populations as Intelligible Objects of Government.” European Journal of Social Theory: 1–20. 
  • Speer, Marc, Barbara Beznec, and Marta Stojic Mitrovic. 2016. “Governing the Balkan Route” ed. Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. Macedonia, Serbia and the European Border Regime (5). 
  • Triandafyllidou, Anna. 2018. “A ‘Refugee Crisis’ Unfolding: ‘Real’ Events and Their Interpretation in Media and Political Debates.” Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies 16(1–2): 198–216.
  • Vaughan-Williams, Nick. 2015. Europe’s Border Crisis. 1st ed. pu. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  • Walters, William. 2002. “Mapping Schengenland. Denaturalizing the Border.” In Environment and Planning.Society and Space, eds. Stuart Elden et al. Los Angeles: Sage, 417–41.
  • Wimmer, Andreas, and Nina Glick Schiller. 2002. “Methodological Nationalism and Beyond.” Global Networks 2(4): 301–34. 
Classes will be interactive. They will consist of a combination of brief lectures, including guest lectures, group discussions, student presentations and peer-review sessions.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Total
  • 56
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Feedback on small, written assignments

Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Free written assignment

Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner