Walls, Borders, and Partitions in Global Perspective

Sponsored by the Department of History, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and the Office of International Education,

Part of the University of Richmond’s School of Arts & Sciences Contested Spaces: This Ground.

Friday, February 28, 2020 | 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
University of Richmond, Richmond Room

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the subsequent reunification of Germany were met with a mixture of euphoria, anxiety, and hope, inspiring a desire for an end to walls and militarized borders around the world. In retrospect, we were closer to a world without border walls in 1989 than we are today. In 1989 only 15 countries had border walls. As of November 2017, however, over 70 walls separated nations and states—50 of which were constructed following September 11, 2001.

Examples of contemporary border walls include not only the increasingly tense border between the United States and Mexico (930 km), but also Spain and Morocco (19 km) and Israel and the West Bank (708 km). In many cases, these walls have destroyed more lives than the Berlin Wall, promoting human suffering by intensifying socio-economic inequality, restricting access to resources and social services, and fostering a cycle of division, mistrust, violence, and fatalities.

This conference explores the reasons for the proliferation of walls and their impacts on migration, citizenship, and possibilities for peace as well as their role in reconfiguring border landscapes and communities.

9:00 - 9:15 am | Welcome and Conference Opening

Dr. Patrice Rankine
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Classics
University of Richmond

9:15 - 10:30 am | Walls and their Discontents: Migration, Peace, and the Politics of Division

From left: Miguel Díaz-Barriga, Élisabeth Vallet, Laura McAtackney, and Kathrin Bower

Introduction: Dr. Miguel Díaz-Barriga, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Richmond

"Border Wall Proliferation and Circumvention Strategies": Dr. Élisabeth Vallet, Director of the Center for Geopolitical Studies at the Raoul-Dandurand Chair of Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, University of Quebec-Montreal

"The Post-conflict Promise of Peace? Enduring Peace Walls and their Impact on Lived Experience and Memory of 'the Troubles' in Contemporary Northern Ireland": Dr. Laura McAtackney, Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Aarhus University

Moderator: Dr. Kathrin Bower, Professor of German Studies, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and Associate Dean, Arts and Sciences, University of Richmond

10:30 - 10:45 am | Coffee Break

10:45 - 12:00 pm | Walls, Colonialism, and the Politics of Fragmentation

From left: Amahl Bishara, Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez, and Margaret Dorsey

Introduction: Dr. Miguel Díaz-Barriga, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Richmond

"The Violence of Israel’s Separation Wall: An Ethnography through Multiple Analytics": Dr. Amahl Bishara, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, Affiliate Faculty, Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism & Diaspora, Tufts University

"The Political Ecology of Languagelessness of the Southwest North American Region: Case Studies in the Linguistic Commoditization of Mexican Origin People.": Dr. Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez, Regents' Professor, School of Transborder Studies and School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Motorola Presidential Professor of Neighborhood Revitalization, Arizona State University

Moderator: Dr. Margaret Dorsey, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Richmond

12:00 - 1:30 pm | Lunch

1:45 - 3:00 pm | Keynote

From left: Katrina Nousek, Edith Sheffer, and Michelle Kahn

Introduction: Dr. Katrina Nousek, Visiting Assistant Professor of German Studies, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Richmond

"Making the Iron Curtain: The Violence of Germany’s Wall": Dr. Edith Sheffer, Senior Fellow at University of California Berkeley’s Institute for European Studies

Moderator: Dr. Michelle Kahn, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Richmond

3:00 - 4:00 pm | Reception