Humanitarian Borderwork. By P. PALLISTER-WILKINS


Humanitarian Borderwork. By P. PALLISTER-WILKINS

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Cite as: Pallister-Wilkins, P., 2016, "Humanitarian Borderwork", in Günay C. and Witjes N. (eds), Border Politics: Defining Spaces of Governance and Forms of Transgressions, Springer, pp. 85-103


Over the last 10 years border practices by European member states and supranational EU actors such as Frontex have changed. Increasingly border practices, including border policing have taken account of humanitarian concerns and actively pursued humanitarian practices concerned with saving lives. These changes are in large part a result of the reduction in safe and legal routes for those fleeing conflict, human rights abuses and poverty. These restrictions produce increasingly violent border spaces that result in the need for humanitarian, lifesaving interventions to relieve the effects of such violence. I call this humanitarian borderwork. Here the enactment of humanitarian principles changes older forms of borderwork concerned with stopping, defending and securing territory to work concerned with securing lives. Humanitarian borderwork considers two main areas: one concerns the ways demands to save lives in border contexts impacts on the practices and performances of those engaged in border policing; and two concerns the ways humanitarian actors who have entered the field of border performances in order to save lives and alleviate suffering impact the production of borders.

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