Border Patrols

The city is the border. Each time you wave away the Chinese DVD seller who approaches you in the pub; each time you glide past the Polish beer in the cornershop, choosing a stella or chardonnay instead; each time you discard the free advertising newsheet you’ve barely even read – a million instant statements of the border.

Sex worker postcards in the last remaining telephone booth (new in town!); spruikers on the curry shift entice you for a deal; dragging angry and Peckham through the CCTV streets at dawn – the border is the city and the walls between us all.

It could not be that we don’t know this: that the management of the border is a mass participation project operated absentmindedly by all of us all day. Through an overkill of commentary and a shifting, churning hierarchy, the profiles, stereotypes and judgements that are constantly made yet so often denied are the guilty enactment of this regime. Border Police do their work – spot check, detention, deportation – all the better because our everywhere everyday distracted border operation is there in all we do.

The regulations are on the streets, the regulators are here.

2 thoughts on “Border Patrols

  1. So, why the above blather?

    I have been awarded some money for a network on Borders and creativity – music, theatre, film, and it includes money for people from India to come to Berlin London Copenhagen – and possibly Barcelona, this year and next.

    The project: we are gathering Border Activist/artists from a couple of organizations and propose to meet together over a week – some casual meetings, some workshops, some public talks – to work out some ways to break with conventions of Border arts – and of course with Border Patrols. The thinking needs to be furthered, but I want that to happen in concert with others. Migrant Media London, Clandestino music festival Gotebourg, Re:Orient theatre Stockholm and friends in Unis at Barcelona, Berlin FU and Copenhagen Doctoral School.

    The times are not yet fixed, but I wanted to give advance notice….

    A slightly better outline of the plan: The money I have is small, and specifically for events in Berlin, London and Copenhagen and for visitors from Calandestino festival, Re:Orient theatre, and Migrant Media film, and various people from Kolkata. It is to run a series of week long laboratory-workshops. These will be variously on music, theatre and film. The focus is on border crossing activisms in some way, I hope. Nothing is worked out yet, but at a guess the dates would help – approximately, a week each in:

    end October 08: London (music)

    end feb 09 Berlin (theatre)

    May 09 Copenhagen (Film)

    Sept 09 London (film)

    Feb 10 Berlin (music)

    May 10 Copenhagen (theatre)

    The people involved will be working on border activism, transnational, diaspora, streets as borders, the border between ourselves, everywhere, everyday…mainly, but specifically with a film, theatre and music angles. Any ideas welcome…

    The first meeting at least will be music focused. A week long ‘laboratory’ on ‘sonic diaspora’ to be held in London in October. There would also be a big music night at the Amersham Arms pub. The laboratory would involve various practitioners in music, and academics from Europe, in a series of workshops (no idea exactly on what yet) in the week.

    So, these are just preliminary ideas, but get thinking of border again… and have a look at your calendar.

    – John


  2. This just in from Prof Les Back:

    On the 7th of September at 4PM, we will launch our report ԁ door to the future?: the consequences for young migrants of immigration and welfare policyծ The report is based on findings from the London leg of a major EU funded research study entitled ԅU Margins: On the Margins of the European Communityծ This research explored different aspects of social inclusion and exclusion for young adult migrants in seven different cities in seven different European Countries. We at Goldsmiths College, focussed on London while our European partners conducted research in the cities in which they were based. The findings we discuss relate to the case studies of young adult migrants in London compiled by us in partnership with young people that speak to local and European debates. We would very much like to invite you to attend. Further details of the study can be found at .

    The event will take place at Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3EU. Nearby underground stations include Westminster and St Jamesճ Park. A map can be found at by entering the postcode SW1P 3EU. If you would like to come then please email Joanna Zywotko at joanna.zywotko[at]
    to reserve a place. We attach a program of the event.

    Yours faithfully,

    Professor Les Back and Dr Shamser Sinha


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