Border Violence: The Case of Melilla

4th Global Migration Lecture


Tuesday, 6th July 2021 (18:30–20:00, CEST) | Online Lecture via Zoom

Borders are spaces intrinsically invested with a high concentration of state violence or its threat. This constitutive sovereign violence, however, remains mostly hidden and is not actualized through regular border checks. This talk aimed at unpacking the citizenship contract that occludes the open deployment of violence, and exposing the ways in which the EU southern borders are, instead, spaces where overlapping forms of violence unfold. Focusing on the case of the so called “fence” around the Spanish exclave of Melilla, on African soil, the presentation discussed three forms of harm that can be related respectively to three different definitions of violence. One is the classical definition of violence as “physical harm” that relates it to the shedding of blood and can be associated to the episodic representation of migrants’ deaths that critical researchers have called “border spectacle”. In second place, and in contrast to that, the notion of “slow violence” developed by Rob Nixon was explored in relation to migrant routes and border related suffering. The third form of violence is epistemic, or symbolic, and re-enacts, both in discourse and in practice, racializing, neo-colonial constructions of African men.

The talk was based on secondary literature and on interviews and observations carried out in Melilla and Nador during a research stay in 2017.



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Welcome and Introductory Remarks
Dr Volker Heins
Affiliate Professor of Political Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen & Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI), Essen


4th Global Migration Lecture
Border Violence: The Case of Melilla

Dr Estela Schindel
Associate Professor and Academic Coordinator of the Viadrina Institute for European Studies (IFES), Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder)

Discussant:  Dr Bidisha Biswas
Professor of Political Science, Western Washington University & Senior Research Fellow at KHK/GCR21

Moderator:  Dr Volker Heins

Q&A with the Audience

Concluding Remarks and End of the Lecture