Contested Belongings: An Ethnography of Emerging Bordering Practices in the EU

Name of applicant

Martin Lundsteen


DKK 800,962



Type of grant

Visiting Fellowships at University of Oxford


The project will study the societal effects of so-called bordering practices. Bordering practices are measures taken by state institutions to attain social order and gain legitimacy by demarcating categories of people to incorporate some and exclude others. A rich body of scholarship explains how these practices have transformed nation-states, economies, subjectivities, and citizenship. However, only little attention has been dedicated to their unintended social and political effects. The main aim of this project is to understand how social boundaries are being constituted and enforced through the socio-cultural and political use of crime in two European metropolises: Barcelona and Copenhagen.


Although politicians, policymakers, and the police often admit that the “crimes” committed are petty at worst and, by large, unharmful, yet the new, petty, but very consequent bordering practices employed to tackle them have social and political consequences that go far beyond the intended ones. They may indeed have devastating consequences for the social fabric, especially in terms of belonging to the society. Hence, Contested Belongings. The research project tackles an emergent problem formulation in the advanced liberal societies of the EU. In dealing with this burning issue, it will shed a much needed qualitative and critical light on the development of present-day jurisprudence in its relation to borders and belonging, aiding in the construction of much more cohesive societies.


The research constitutes a theoretically informed, comparative account of the social and political implications of two emerging bordering practices in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Barcelona, Spain. The theoretical and analytical part of the project will take place at the Centre for Criminology at Oxford University: a leading research centre in socio-legal studies, carrying out ground-breaking research on punishment, citizenship and crime control. The research consists of 6-months fieldwork in the two locations. This entails an extensive media, law and policy review, as well as interviews with those who conceive the bordering practices, those who enforce them and the people affected.

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