Natalie Göltenboth (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität)


From 13:30
to 15:00
From 13:30
to 15:00

Anthropological Perspectives on Borders, Migration and Mobility in the Mediterranean

Separating and at the same time connecting the shores of the Mediterranean, the sea has been unavoidably instrumental to conquerors, traders, travelers, labor migrants and refugees from antiquity until today. Considering that mobility and connectivity have always been key features of the Mediterranean, the topics of this course will range from historical networks in the Mediterranean to the tourism phenomenon starting in the beginning of the 20th century and through to recent clandestine migration from the Middle-East and the Sub-Sahara Region to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. As this last phenomenon will certainly be of concern to us over the coming years, we will closely examine the actual scenarios and the actors involved alongside issues of illegality, clandestine migration and risk.

Starting out from an historical approach to mobility in the Mediterranean, we will highlight different kinds of migration that have characterized the area: postcolonial migration due to wars or independent movements at the beginning of the 20th century, as well as lifestyle migration of artists, thinkers and the retired in search of utopias and better ways of life. As a special form of mobility, we will also take a closer look at the tourist takeover of some areas, which began in the late sixties and continues today. 

As the alarming scenarios of the contemporary refugee crisis in the Mediterranean call for a deeper analysis of this issue, we will consider the definition of illegalness and what amounts to an illegal industry, studying the strategies of the clandestine migrants, trying to reach Europe and making decisions about which routes and transport to take, where to hide and how to deal with embodied illegality. The ontological, social and political dimension of the border and the modus operandi of the European border regime administered through Frontex and other gatekeepers will concern us here. A special focus will be given to gender aspects of illegal migration as women are more vulnerable to physical harassment and usually opt for different strategies from those of their male fellow travelers.

During the whole course, we will conduct group research on the history of migration to Venice and the cohabitation of people from different cultural and religious backgrounds. The current situation of migrants in and around the area of Venice will be explored via media analysis (newspapers, journals, television) and fieldwork.

Course requirements:
The course is a seminar. Each session is organized around readings that must be completed before class. Students have to be prepared to discuss the texts and physically bring them to class (either on paper or on screen) so that we can re-read certain passages.

Students must also:

  • prepare one oral presentation (alone or in a group) accompanied by power point presentations, based on the readings
  • do fieldwork (alone or in a group) and present and discuss their research
  • write one final essay. The essay must include bibliographical references and notes. The topic will be chosen in agreement with the professor and may range from one of the topics of the seminar to reflections on the student’s own research experiences.

Detailed information about the course, guidelines and articles will be available during the semester in the e-learning platform, which students will be asked to consult regularly.



  • Introduction, getting to know each other, brainstorming, own ideas
  • Historical approach to connectivity and mobility in the Mediterranean
  • Anthropological approach to mobility and migration
  • Postcolonial migration in the Mediterranean
  • In search of Utopias in the sunny South: travelers, tourists, retirement- and lifestyle- migration
  • Anthropology of the border
  • Border regimes on the northern shores of the Mediterranean
  • Clandestine migration from Africa and the Middle East to Europe
  • Women crossing borders – the female experience
  • The creation of Illegalness and the illegality Industry
  • Migration and mobility in Venice: joint research and fieldwork on the current situation of different types of migrants in and around Venice



30%  attendance and participation
30%  oral presentation in class
40%  written final essay



The weekly reading texts will be a selection of texts and text extracts from the following books and articles. 

Connectivity and Mobility – a Historical Approach

- Mobility and Travel in the Mediterranean from antiquity to the Middle Ages. Kongressbericht Paderborn. Münster 2004: Lit Verlag
- Peregrine Horden & Nicholas Purcell. 2000. The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History. Oxford, Malden (Massachusetts): Blackwell

Anthropological Approach to Mobility and Migration

- Noel. B. Salazar. 2016. Keywords in Mobility. A critical Introduction p. 1-12 In: Keywords in Mobility. A Critical Engagements. Noel B. Salazar & Kiran Jayaram (eds.) NY, Oxford: Berghahn
- Arjun Appadurai. 1996.Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy p.27-47. In: Arjun Appadurai. Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. London, Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press

Postcolonial Migration in the Mediterranean

- Sayak Abdelmalek. 2000. El Ghorba. From Original Sin to Collective Lie p. 147-170.
 In: Ethnography 2000.1; 147.London, NY: Sage Publications

In Search of Utopias

- Eduardo Moyá.2016. Journeys in the Sun: Travel Literature and Desire in the Balearic Islands (1903-1939). Mallorca: Universitat de les Illes Balerars
- Valene S. Smith (ed.) Hosts and Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism. Philadelphia: Univ. Press

Anthropology of the Border

- Sharam Khosravi. 2011. Illegal Traveller. An Auto-Ethnography of Borders. Introduction. London: Palgrave Macmillan
- Chris Rumford.2006. Theorizing Borders In: European Journal of Social Theory 9(2): 155-169

Border Regimes

- Paolo Gaibazzi, Alice Bellagamba, Stephan Dünnwald (eds.) 2017. EurAfrican Borders and Migration Management: Political Cultures, Contested Spaces and Ordinary Lives. NY: Palgrave Macmillan
- Nick-Vaugham Williams. 2011. Off-Shore Biopolitical Border Security: The EU’s Global Response to Migration, Piracy and “Risky Subjects” In: Luiza Bialasiewicz (eds.) Europe in the World. EU Politics and the making of European Space. Franham Burlington

Clandestine migration

- Alessandro Triulzi & Robert L. McKenzie (eds.) 2103. Long Journeys. African Migrants on the Road. Leiden: Brill
- Gebrewold Bealchew & Tendayi Bloom: 2016. Understanding Migrant Decisions: From Sub-Sahara Africa to the Mediterranean Region. London, NY: Routledge
- Andersson, Ruben. 2014. Time and the Migrant Other: European Border Controls and the Temporal Economics of Illegality. In: American Anthropologist 116(4):795-809 

Woman crossing borders – the female experience

- Kristin Kastner. 2013. Nigerian Border Crossers: Woman Travelling to Europe by Land In: Long Journeys. African Migrants on the Road. Alessandro Triulzi and Robert L. McKenzie (Eds.) Leiden: Brill
- Eva Evers Rosander.1991. Woman in a Borderland. Managing Ethnic Identity where Morocco meets Spain. Stockholm

The making of illegalness and the illegality Industry

- Anderson, Ruben. 2014. Hunter and Prey: Patrolling Clandestine Migration in the Euro-African Borderlands. In: Anthropological Quarterly 87(1): 119-150.
- Itty Abrahams & Willem van Schendel.2005. The Making of Illicitness In: Willem van Schendel & Itty Abrahams (eds.): Illicit Flows and Criminal Things. State Borders and the Other Side of Globalization. Indiana: Indiana Univ. Press.



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