Preprint / Version 1

Open Anthro Vol 7-1 Walls, Fences and Barriers - Anthropology on the Border



Open Anthropology, walls, anthropology, Borders, anthropology borders


The Editors’ Note: Walls, Fences, and Barriers: Anthropology on the Border

Sallie Han, Department of Anthropology, SUNY Oneonta Jason Antrosio, Department of Anthropology, Hartwick College

This is my home this thin edge of barbwire
But the skin of the earth is seamless The sea cannot be fenced, el mar does not stop at borders.
Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987)

The official demolition of the Berlin Wall in 1990, following months of popular demonstration, had been heralded as the start of a new chapter of human history in which walls, fences, and borders were no longer needed or wanted.
We are writing a different story now. Border barriers are going up, not coming down.

In fact, almost 30 years after the end of the Cold War, there has been a boom in the building of walls and the fortification of borders around the world. While there were seven such structures at the end of World War II, USA Today reported in May 2018 there are at least seventy-seven such barriers today, many of them erected in the aftermath of 9/11. They include a wall raised by Turkey on its border with Syria, fences installed by Greece and Bulgaria on their borders with Turkey, and barriers that Israel built on its border with Egypt and that Egypt built on on its border along the Gaza Strip.

The situation is one that the American Anthropological Association has been prompted to investigate, establishing a committee on Anthropology and the Proliferation of Border and Security.

This issue of Open Anthropology brings together the work of anthropologists examining some of these walls, fences, and barriers and their effects and consequences for the people whom they are intended to keep out (or keep in)—and the actions that people themselves take to scale and navigate them. As a publication of the American Anthropological Association, we are opening material from AAA journals, but we would also like to highlight the special 2018 issue on “Walls, Material and Rhetorical: Past, Present, and Future” in the Review of International American Studies. This special RIAS issue in many ways intersects with the articles in OA, and we would encourage readers to pursue these interconnected works.


Download data is not yet available.