87161 - Criminology Of The Borders

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2021/2022

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 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 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.

This year programme will develop around one core question: what is Punishment when it comes to the control of mobility, and can we talk about punishment at all? The focus of such interrogation will be the European context, analysed through comparative perspective as much as possible.

Lectures will first introduce the students to the critical perspective in criminology and then it 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 sites where one can observe the mechanisms of criminalization of mobility, namely: Legal criminalization, immigration courts, immigration detention, deportation, border policing, asylum system, externalization of border. Each of them will be discussed through empirical and theoretical researches carried out in different contexts.

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, as detailed in the syllabus which will be distributed at the starting of classes. Students are required to carefully read the assigned material before the session and active participation through class discussion of existing scholarship and case studies will also be expected.


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, shall be assigned during the course, according to the topic discussed. The syllabus will be distributed at 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. 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, written critical comments of the classes, and presentations on behalf of students. The active participation of students during the course will be strongly encouraged.

Students will engage in group presentations: they are expected to present any relevant event of their choice occurring in contemporary border control and use the relevant literature of their choice to analyse it. Class discussion will follow each presentation. After presenting in class, each group is expected to turn their presentation in a collective short essay (a blog post, no more than 1500 words), which will be assessed and will count for 20 per cent of the final grade.

Assessment methods

  • 1500-words collective short essay (20% of the final grade)
  • 5000-words final essay and oral discussion of it (80% 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