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                 5th and 6th March 2008, University of Leeds
                 Main Geography Building, University Road

Wednesday 5th March
9.30        Room G.23   Registration
            and foyer   Tea / coffee

10.00      Room G.23    Welcome

10.15      Room G.23    Henk van Houtum, Sociology, Centre for Border
                        Research, University of Nijmegen
                        "Theorising the (im)morality of borders"

                        Discussant: David Sibley

11.30      Foyer        Tea / coffee

11.45      Room G.23    Lawrence Taylor, Anthropology, National University of
                        ‘Ethnography on the edge: anthropological
                        perspectives on the study of borders’

                        Discussant: Adrian Bailey

1.00       Foyer        Lunch

2.00       Room G.23    Loveday Hodson, Law, University of Leicester
                        ‘Whose Responsibility?: The extraterritorial
                        applicability of human rights laws.’

                        Discussant: Steve Wheatley

3.15       Foyer        Tea / coffee

3.30       Room G.23    Nick Blomley, Geography, Simon Fraser University
                        'Rights, begging, and the separative self'

                        Discussant: Sarah Blandy

4.45       Foyer        Refreshments

5.30                    Film: ‘The Iron Wall’
                        (Mohammed Alatar, 2006)
6.30                    Leave for evening meal
Thursday 6th March
10.00        Room 1.36                Rowland Atkinson, Sociology, University of Tasmania
                                      ‘Burying Indigeneity: the Spatial Construction of
                                      Policymaker Realities and Aboriginal Australia’


11.15                                 Tea / coffee

11.30             Room 1.36           Davina Cooper, Law, University of Kent
                                      ‘Creating Inequality In An Everyday Utopia’

                                      Discussant: Nichola Wood

12.45             Foyer               Lunch


Henk van Houtum

"Theorising the (im)morality of borders"

In this presentation I will focus on questioning the often implicit and taken-for-
granted normative make-up of socio-spatial b/ordering and othering practices. Socio-
spatial economies and identities, and the territorial borders that co-construct and
protect them, often are doors that are closed for some and open for others. By
analysing then how we treat and open our borders for Others, much is revealed of
how we see and constitute ourselves. That what is beyond the self-defined border of
comfort, is often socially made legitimate to be neglected, creating spaces of
indifference. It is this constitutive process of imagining the sameness on the one hand
and difference with and perceived fear for/threat of the (often imagined invasion of
the) Other on the other hand that needs continuous critical normative questioning
and interrogation. B/ordering and Othering politics continuously involve an
inherently contested and contextual quest for the moral balance between the freedom
we allow for others and the doubt and uncertainty we allow for ourselves.

Lawrence Taylor

‘Ethnography on the edge: anthropological perspectives on the study of borders’
Following a brief review of current ethnographic work in borderlands, this talk will
use the contemporary, highly contested representations of the US/Mexico border
landscapes and 'humanscapes,' to develop the theoretical concept of moral
geography. My intention is to explore the cultural means by which moral valence is
attributed to such terrains and the political consequences of these acts of symbolic
politics. The paper draws on the critical geography approaches to the production of
space and the sociological concept of moral entrepreneur, enriching both through an
anthropological attention to landscape, material culture, and performance.
Ethnographically, the paper is based on several years of fieldwork among a variety
of often opposing constituencies, such as undocumented migrants, park rangers and
border patrol, vigilantes, faith-based immigrant-aid groups, and religious pilgrims.
All these groups move through, depict (visually and discursively), and in other ways
contribute to rival cultural constructions of the meaning and moral complexion of
this fraught region.

Loveday Hodson

‘Whose Responsibility?: The extraterritorial applicability of human rights laws.’
This paper considers the concept of ‘boundaries’ in the context of international law.
In particular, it explores the nature and extent of States’ legal responsibility to act in
order to prevent torture that occurs outside of their territorial boundaries. While
international law prohibits torture absolutely, the extent of States’ obligation to
safeguard people who are outside of their territories from torture and ill-treatment is
unclear. This question raises the competing claims made, on the one had, by
international law’s deep-rooted and fundamental respect for the traditional
territorially-bounded jurisdiction of States (reflected in its twin principles of State
sovereignty and non-intervention) and, on the other hand, the emerging recognition
of a universal responsibility to protect those who are at risk from serious human
rights violations that transcends territorial boundaries.

This paper re-visits a rather overgrown and neglected footpath, rather than carving
out an entirely new course. International human rights law recognises that States
have a legitimate interest in torture that occurs outside of their traditional
jurisdiction. This is reflected in the erga omnes character of human rights and in the
fact that human rights treaties provide inter-state mechanisms to ensure compliance
with their provisions. However, the extent and nature of the obligation this imposes
on States is not clear and States frequently exhibit ambivalence towards policing the
absolute prohibition on torture where this would interfere with other political
imperatives. This paper is written with a keen awareness that a number of British
residents (including those who had been granted asylum in this country) were
detained by US authorities in Guantánamo Bay for several years without the UK
government making representations for their return, in spite of allegations that they
had suffered from torture and ill-treatment. It asks whether an approach can be
developed that effectively re-conceives the boundaries of responsibility in
international law and thereby strengthens States’ responsibility to protect those who
are tortured – and those who are at risk from torture – outside of their territorial

Nick Blomley

'Rights, begging, and the separative self'

Scholarly critics tend to oppose attempts at the regulation of public space - such as
new laws regulating begging in Canadian cities - by claiming to uncover illiberal
motivations, such as fear or exclusion. However, this is at the expense of a careful
treatment of the rationales and arguments used to support such legal interventions.
Drawing on interview data and legislative proceedings, I try to take such pro-
regulatory language more seriously, arguing that it in fact relies upon a deeply
liberal geography of personhood, rights, space and encounter, in which the
separative self, separated by clear boundaries from others, plays a central role.
Identifying this liberal geography, I argue, is crucial in understanding the political
traction of public order law, as well as in coming up with informed critiques of such

Rowland Atkinson

‘Realities and Indigeneity: spatial constructions of policymakers’

Berger and Luckman treated ‘reality’ as socially constructed in the sense that
impressions of the social structure were seen as stemming from the social groups and
identities that actors moved within. This account is used here as the starting point for
an exploration of the specific role of social space in understanding public
interventions into, the understanding of, indigenous affairs in Australia. We ask in
what ways the spatial, as well as social, separation of Aboriginal life from white
Australia might influence the social construction of indigenous life as apart and
unknown. Might this mutual exclusivity, between daily circuits of white and
indigenous Australians, have the effect of diminishing the drive to intervene or
support initiatives that ameliorate the conditions and poor life-chances of indigenous
Australians? In this paper we:

   a) Profile the spatial distribution and relative segregation of indigenous
   Australians in both historical and urban contexts, and;
   b) Ask what value a spatially constructed understanding of public policy might

We conclude by discussing the composition of the urban social and policy systems
and their emergent properties, generated by mutual disregard. We argue that the
spatial disjuncture between black and white lives in Australia’s urban areas supports
the burial of initiatives, actions and contact between these groups and that these
arrangements have the capacity to negatively impact on those groups which are
thereby more easily seen as both politically and spatially marginal to the daily life of
a majority population.
Davina Cooper

‘Creating Inequality In An Everyday Utopia’

This paper explores the agency and boundaries of alternative social spaces through
their capacity to create, resist, block and subvert social inequalities. Part of a wider
project on "everyday utopias", a term I use for spaces of social invention,
prefigurative aspiration and political possibility, this paper draws on research into
four particular sites. These are spaces of casual female sex, alternative trading, free
schooling, and anarchic public speech. Drawing on feminist, queer, and other social
theory, the paper argues against two polarities - the first assumes that the sites
explored are, in a sense boundariless, that is they reflect, in some linear or
transparent manner, wider inequalities; the second assumes their boundedness; so
that in spaces dedicated to social justice, inequality does not exist.

This paper takes a different approach. While it describes the sites as everyday
utopias, it does not see them either as fortified faultless ideals or as unprotected
spaces of delusion. Rather, it treats them as evolving, socially complex, non-unitary
spaces nesting, captured, and partially configured by wider society in varied and
disparate ways. To explore the limits, capacity and processes through which such
relative autonomy occurs, the paper focused on the relationship between everyday
utopias' agency and social inequality, centring the concept of "social dynamics" - the
mechanisms or edifice through which inequality is produced. By centring the
question of boundary making and its transgressing, the paper explores how social
dynamics within alternative spaces both have the potential to generate distinctive
internal inequalities, which simultaneously interact with those produced in other
spaces, particularly within what I designate as the "social mainstream". At the same
time, the paper also explores how the social dynamics of everyday utopias, in their
production of relative autonomy, may create relations of difference or otherness
rather than inequality. In other words, social dynamics which produce inequality
within mainstream life may work differently within everyday utopias. To explore
this further, the paper draws on two social dynamics and two inequalities.
These are the social dynamics of production-distribution-consumption and intimacy-
embodiment-desire, and the two inequalities/ differences of socio-economic class and

Discussant: Nichola West

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