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69460-01 - Seminar: Desire Lines - Lines of Control: A political and cultural history of fencing 3 KP

Semester Herbstsemester 2023
Angebotsmuster einmalig
Dozierende Giorgio Miescher (giorgio.miescher@unibas.ch, BeurteilerIn)
Inhalt “Define, on the two-dimensional surface of the earth, lines across which motion is to be prevented, and you have one of the key-themes of history.” With this provocative statement the historian Reviel Netz argued for the necessity of a history of fencing in his seminal book Barbed Wire (2004). Fences are indeed the most common form to prevent movement. This is achieved thanks to two of their key characteristics: Firstly, fences constitute physical barriers in space which can have various forms, ranging from simple wire or wooden fences to more massive forms such electrical fences or even barbed wire roles. Secondly, fences demarcate space and function as conveyor of limited access and property rights. This is why a history of fencing always requires us to think about fences in a way that accounts for their materiality as much as their economic, political and symbolic meaning. Fences express a specific spatial regime of sovereignty (they control access) and of property (they mark land as commodity). In other words – fences tell us something about the power relations at work, and they do so in particular ways: materially and visually. The grid of fences pervading a landscape visualises the control over land, livestock, and game, as much as it materially references labour relations, modes of production, transport, law, surveillance and policing. Yet, a history of fencing has to understand fences not only as manifestation of control but also of ambitions and fears. The high electrical fence surrounding a house, for instance, not only marks the owner’s assertion that this is his/her house, but also the fear that somebody might break into his/her property. In other words, fences also tell us something about the desires and anxieties prevalent in a given society. In light of the many fences erected all over the world in recent years, thinking about the history of fencing seems an urgent necessity.
The seminar uses examples of recently erected fences as starting point to engage with the complex history of fencing in Namibia and South African, in particular. Endless fences along roads, for instance, are well known to everyone who has travelled overland in these two countries, where the presence and/or absence of fences first and foremost points to a long and contested history of land dispossession and appropriation. Southern African fencing history is, however, not limited to the fencing of farming land. Fences also played an important role as a technology of warfare, policing and confinement. South Africa has, to mention just two examples, features numerous border fences erected against unwanted movement of people and animals since the late 19th century, and fenced prison camps such as the first so-called concentration camp in the early 20th century.
The seminar approaches Southern African history, and in particular Namibian and South African history, through fences and the act of fencing, and thereby explores unconventional analytical paths in retracing key-topics and conflicts in the region’s history. By means of selected examples the seminar will discuss various forms of fencing, the underlying anxieties and desires, and the way the acts of fencing changed the life of people and animals. The literature on fencing is new and the readings will introduce students to an emerging field of historical inquiry. There are, on the other hand, rich sources we will work with in the seminar, among them texts, maps, and images.


Unterrichtssprache Englisch
Einsatz digitaler Medien kein spezifischer Einsatz


Intervall Wochentag Zeit Raum
wöchentlich Donnerstag 14.00-16.00
Bemerkungen Time: Thursday 14-16h: the seminar starts on Thursday 5 October 2023 Partly in block format, details to discuss with participants Venue: Basler Afrika Bibliographien , Klosterberg 23, 4051 Basel

Keine Einzeltermine verfügbar, bitte informieren Sie sich direkt bei den Dozierenden.

Module Doktorat Afrika-Studien: Empfehlungen (Promotionsfach: Afrika-Studien)
Modul: Areas: Afrika (Master Studiengang: Europäische Geschichte in globaler Perspektive )
Modul: Aufbau Neuere / Neueste Geschichte (Bachelor Studienfach: Geschichte)
Modul: Conflicts and Peacebuilding (Master Studiengang: Changing Societies: Migration – Conflicts – Resources )
Modul: Fields: Governance and Politics (Master Studiengang: African Studies)
Modul: Kulturtechnische Dimensionen (Master Studiengang: Kulturtechniken)
Modul: Neuere / Neueste Geschichte (Master Studienfach: Geschichte)
Modul: Praktiken (Master Studiengang: Kulturtechniken)
Modul: The Urban across Disciplines (Master Studiengang: Critical Urbanisms)
Vertiefungsmodul Global Europe: Staatlichkeit, Entwicklung und Globalisierung (Masterstudium: European Global Studies)
Leistungsüberprüfung Lehrveranst.-begleitend
An-/Abmeldung zur Leistungsüberprüfung Anmelden: Belegen; Abmelden: nicht erforderlich
Wiederholungsprüfung keine Wiederholungsprüfung
Skala Pass / Fail
Wiederholtes Belegen nicht wiederholbar
Zuständige Fakultät Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät, studadmin-philhist@unibas.ch
Anbietende Organisationseinheit Zentrum für Afrikastudien