SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Novak, Paolo (2022) 'Re-producing the Humanitarian Border.' Geopolitics. (Forthcoming)

Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY 4.0).

Download (745kB) | Preview


Scholarship dissecting the EU humanitarian border has consistently emphasised its productive nature. The enmeshment of securitarian and humanitarian logics produces new forms of control that transform pre-existing techniques and practices; new geographies of connection and demarcation; new (non)knowledges and realities that discipline migrants. This article builds upon these contributions yet expands their remit to account for the productive relation that articulates the humanitarian border with place-specific social forces and dynamics. It is in this relation, the paper argues, that the border finds the conditions of possibility for its concrete emergence and reproduction. Through the study of asylum seekers’ reception centres in a central Italian province, an important node of the humanitarian border, the paper, first, underscores how borders externalisation connects an amalgam of places designated as both internal and external to the EU, into non-contiguous forms of border control. Second, it highlights how these forms of border control do not operate in a tabula rasa, but rather articulate with place-specific social dynamics cutting across different spheres of social life. The humanitarian border not only produces death and fabricates worlds, but it also constitutes a productive relation with the social context(s) in which it operates. Lest we conceive the relation between border controls and migrants’ subjectivities as a dialectic that is avulsed from the social contexts in which it takes place -lest we conceive it, in other words, as unfolding on an ontological plane of its own- it is crucial to reorient studies of the humanitarian border towards an appreciation of the latter’s place-specific articulations.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: humanitarian border,productive power, asylum reception, EU border management, place, institutional ethnography
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Development Studies
ISSN: 14650045
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2022 09:57
Funders: British Academy

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item