Producing Undesirables at the Border. Border Control Practices at a European Airport | La fabrique des indésirables Pratiques de contrôle aux frontières dans un aéroport européen

Andrew Crosby, Andrea Rea
Content Type
Journal Article
Cultures & Conflits
Issue Number
Publication Date
Fall, Winter 2016
Cultures & Conflits
Based on empirical research in a European airport, this article analyses how border guards control third-country nationals by advancing an anthropology of the power of border control as exhibited by the use of symbolic violence and discretionary state power. Leaning on the theories of street-level bureaucracies and organizations, we analyze the work practices, professional routines and organization of the work of border guards in order to show how border guards activate and constitute the border and the control of mobility. We argue that control at the airport is based both on the influence of the network-border and on a dramaturgical performance of bureaucratic governance, which is meant to create legitimate travelers and undesirable passengers, while circumventing potential protests of the latter and simulating accountability toward the broader public of citizens. As such, border control is more of a symbolic act than an efficient tool of immigration policy.
Immigration, Border Control, Borders, Bureaucracy
Political Geography