Whiplash: Shifting Positionalities and Disciplinary Cross-Fire in the Study of Borders

Irene López
Kenyon College

How should we engage in the study of borders and what are the ethical challenges involved in the study of migration? In what follows, I discuss the tensions that academics face when trying to study borders, and I describe how a visit to a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece exposed disciplinary fault lines that underscored the difficulties of doing collaborative and interdisciplinary work. This essay describes the whiplash that occurred when academics, humanitarian stakeholders, and asylum seekers met each other to discuss borders. In the end, it is my contention that the study of borders requires work that is participatory, transdisciplinary, and multilingual and that border work must center the experience of asylum seekers and decolonize the gaze of academics.

KEYWORDS: Border Studies, Migration, Positionality, Psychology, Interdisciplinarity

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