Medicalising borders

Medicalising borders

Selection, containment and quarantine since 1800


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The research of pandemics, epidemics, and pathogens like COVID-19 reaches far beyond the scope of biomedicine. It is not only an objective for the health, political and social sciences, but epidemics and pandemics are a matter of geography: foci and vectors of communicable diseases continue to test the efficacy of medical control at state borders. This volume illuminates these issues from various disciplinary viewpoints. It starts by exploring historical models of quarantine, spatial isolation and detention as precautionary means against the dissemination of disease and contagion by border crossers, migrants and refugees. Besides the patterns of prejudice with which these groups are confronted, the book also deals with various kinds of fear of contamination from outside of the nation state. The contributors address the implementation of medical techniques at state borders in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, as well as the presently practiced measures of medical and biometric screening of migrants and refugees. Uniquely, this volume shows that the current border security regimes of Western states exhibit a high share of medicalised techniques of power, which originate both in European modernity and in the medical and biological disciplines developed during the last quarter of the millennium. Drawing on the collective expertise of a network of international researchers, this interdisciplinary volume is essential reading for those wishing to understand the medicalisation of borders across the globe, from the early eighteenth century up to the present day.