‘An Ethnographic Exploration of Border Zones: The Israeli-Egyptian case in a comparative perspective’.
“During the past decade, the Israeli-Egyptian border has witnessed a growing influx of Africans crossing north. By now, 2012, there are over fifty thousand such migrants residing in Israel. This phenomenon, alongside the trafficking of drugs, sex workers, weapons, as well as the concentration of militias in the Sinai, have turned this border, previously relatively tranquil, into an active, and sometimes violent zone. Our research begins as an ethnographic study of this border. It explores its meanings in the eyes of the Africans who cross it, the soldiers stationed to protect it, and the local inhabitants, both Jewish and Bedouin. It asks how is it shaped by formal policies as well as by informal practices, both by state and non-state agencies and which are the different sovereignties that come into play. As our next step, we wish to expand our study so as to locate it within a comparative perspective. Are the southern boundaries of Spain, France, Italy and Malta similar? What are the parallels along the Eastern boundaries of Europe? The challenges to the State's monopoly over its borders are now evident all along the seam of richer and poorer states in Europe and its vicinity. Thus, by applying a comparative perspective and documenting fundamental features of some of these border-zones, we hope to address both academic questions as well as the concerns of policy makers and officials.“
Keywords: Border-zones, illegal migration, asylum seekers, south-north relations, border regimes