87161 - Criminology Of The Borders

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Giulia Fabini
  • Credits: 8
  • SSD: SPS/04
  • Language: English
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in International Relations (cod. 9084)

Learning outcomes

Objectives: The course is designed to give students a general overview and understanding of the international and European criminological debate concerning border control and a detailed knowledge of key topics and key scholars in the field. Students are expected to be able to combine their knowledge of different contexts and disciplinary approaches when analysing border policies. The goal of the course is that students acquire the competences and knowledge necessary to analyze critically the contemporary policies of border control in different contexts, also in view of possible fields of work and research: border police, the role and functioning of administrative detention and deportation, the international relations of the externalization of borders, the use of criminal law in border control.

Course contents

The course is organised into lectures and seminars, as detailed in the following program and further developed in the syllabus uploaded in VIRTUALE before the beginning of the course. The course will present the contemporary debate in the field known as "border criminology". This is a recently emerged field of criminological research, which merges insights from border studies, critical migration studies, and the criminological interest over border control. The label of "border criminology" identifies an interdisciplinary body of criminological literature concerned with borders and, more specifically, concerned with how border control in times of globalization is bringing about important changes in the field of Criminal justice, punishment, sovereignty and membership in continuously changing and increasingly complex societies.

At the end of the course, students will be expected to be able to analyse the mechanisms of power subtending the processes of illegalization, detention, deportation, refusal and criminalization of migrants. The perspective developed in the course embraces a critical approach and considers law, policies, and discourses as entrenched factors in driving the mechanisms of border control. The focus of the analysis will be the European context, analysed through comparative perspective as much as possible. Special attention will be given to the intersection of race, class and gender in the law-making and law-enforcement activities. Not only the securitization of border will be taken into account, but also the more recently emerged “humanitarian control” will be considered as an object of possible criminological enquiry.

The course is organized in lectures and seminars. Students are required to carefully read the assigned material before each class and are expected to actively participate in class discussion.

Lectures will first introduce the students to the critical perspective in criminology and to the main topics and the theoretical debate of border criminology. It then will provide an introduction to the theoretical key concepts in border criminology, and especially the question of punishment, the nature of borders, and the transnational perspective we aim to adopt in the course, with an attention to the possibility of transforming borders from below. Then, the lectures will investigate the different countries in Europe where one can observe the mechanisms of border control, highlighting the variety of cases. Each of them will be discussed through empirical and theoretical researches carried out in different contexts.


  1. Introduction to critical criminology and border criminology
  2. The illegalization processes and deportability
  3. The perspective of border performativity: multi-scalar and transnational governance of migration
  4. Crimmigration debate in the US and in the EU and its critiques
  5. Pre-removal detention and deportation: theories, numbers, functions
  6. Border policing: discretion, internal borders and the instrumental use of immigration law
  7. Digital borders
  8. Securitarian-Humanitarian control and the criminalization of refugees and asylum seekers


  1. Scandinavian case
  2. Italian case
  3. Spanish case
  4. UK case
  5. Polish case
  6. Mexican case


All students should read the following compulsory articles:

  • Bosworth Mary, Franko Katja, Pickering Sharon (2018), “Punishment, globalization and migration control: ‘Get them the hell out of here’”, Punishment & Society 20(1): 34–53
  • De Genova Nicholas (2002) Migrant “illegality” and deportability in everyday life. Annual Review of Anthropology (31): 419–447
  • Fabini Giulia (2017) Managing illegality at the internal border: Governing through ‘differential inclusion’ in Italy. European Journal of criminology 14(1): 46-62.
  • Melossi Dario (2003). In a Peaceful Life’: Migration and the Crime of Modernity in Europe / Italy
  • Stumpf, J.P. (2006) «The Crimmigration Crisis: Immigrants, Crime, and Sovereign power», in American University Law Review, 56, 367.
  • Wonders Nancy (2006) Global flows, semi-permeable borders and new channels of inequality: Border crossers and border performativity. In: Pickering S and Weber L (eds) Borders, Mobility and Technologies of Control. Heidelberg: Springer, 63–86.

Students who regularly attend classes should read the following:

The above listed readings plus other readings, mainly articles and chapters of books, according to the topic discussed. The syllabus will be distributed before the beginning of the course and will be uploaded on the web page.

Students who do not regularly attend classes should also read the following texts:

  • Aas Katja Franko and Bosworth Mary (2013) The borders of Punishment: Migration, Citizenship and the Northern Penal State. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Katja Franko (2021) The crimmigrant other. Migration and penal power (Introduction; ch. 1; ch. 2; ch. 3; conclusions). Routledge
  • Koulish, R., & van Der Woude, M. A. H. (Eds.). (2020). Crimmigrant Nations. Fordham University Press. (Introduction, chapters 1, 2, 3; plus two other chapters according to the student) –
    • Koulish et al. can be sostituted with a different book, mainly a monograph, in the field of border criminology. This should be agreed in advance with the lecturer, prior to the exam.

Teaching methods

The course will use different teaching methods to provide students with knowledge on border criminology but also to help them develop critical thinking skills: lectures, seminars, class presentations, papers. The active participation of students during the course will be strongly encouraged.

Assessment methods

  • Mid-term exam, a take home exam to be handed at the end of the Lectures part, consisting of three questions (250-300 words each answer) to be submitted through EOL in approximately three days (30% of the final grade)
  • Collective class presentation during Seminars (30% of the fonal grade)
  • 2000-words final essay (40% of the final grade)

Students who do not regularly attend classes will be assessed through a final oral exam

Teaching tools

Power-point, visual material, collective discussions.

Office hours

See the website of Giulia Fabini


Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.