The course will introduce students to different forms of violence related to the existence of state borders and social boundaries, focusing on particular situations in Switzerland, and the way spatial, geostatistical analysis and architectural design can be used to document and contest this violence



Borders, migration, (counter-)forensics, human rights, violence, territory, body, spatial analysis, remote sensing, traces, sentinels, visualization, (im)mobility, (in)visibility, potentialities, solidarity, hospitality, refuge.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

  • Discuss contemporary debates and approaches in relation to mobility, borders, social boundaries, spatial practice and the critical forensic approach
  • Identify how the production of space shapes violence and how spatial analysis in turn can offer a unique edge in analyzing and contesting it
  • Conduct individual and collaborative spatial interdisciplinary research combining humanities and social science methods with creative practice and visual representation
  • Discuss inextricably theoretical, political and methodological questions in relation to the different tools and methods used to register traces of violence and in particular remote sensing technologies
  • Use of Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA), and Geovisualization (GVIS) technologies
  • Design how infrastructures that enable and/or constrain mobility may be transformed to mitigate border violence and foster mobility justice

Teaching methods

Towards spatial analysis, we will examine how spatial analysis, GIS and geostatistical analysis can be used to document and contest border violence in different sites across the territory of Switzerland. Students will build on the methods developed by Border Forensics on geographic information, spatial analysis through Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis (ESDA), and Geovisualization (GVIS).

Towards spatial transformation, students will focus on transcalar spatial transformations (body-territory). We will develop concepts such as Sentinel Architectures and extend them to architectural practices from the collective tacit experience of territory and modes of survival. Through this, we will focus on the potentialities and possibilities of the border to motivate a process from hostile spaces to niches of hospitality. In the process, we will explore concrete proposals to transform (im)mobility infrastructures operating in the selected border zones to undermine border violence and enable mobility justice.



Achiume, E. Tendayi. 2019. "The Postcolonial Case for Rethinking Borders." Dissent 66.3: pp.27-32.


Affolter, Laura. Asylum matters: On the front line of administrative decision-making. Springer Nature, 2021.


Balibar, Étienne. 2004. We, the People of Europe?: Reflections on Transnational Citizenship. Princeton University Press.


Gabrys, Jennifer. 2014. "Programming environments: environmentality and citizen sensing in the smart city", Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 2014, volume 32.


Gill, Nick, Deirdre Conlon, Dominique Moran, and Andrew Burridge. 2018. "Carceral circuitry: New directions in carceral geography." Progress in Human Geography 42, no. 2: 183-204.


Haraway, Donna. 1988. Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 575-599.


Heller, Charles and Pezzani, Lorenzo. 2014. "Liquid Traces: Investigating the Deaths of Migrants at the Maritime Frontier of the EU", In Forensic Architecture (ed.), Forensis : The Architecture of Public Truth. Berlin: Sternberg Press.


Herscher, Andrew. 2017. Displacements: Architecture and Refugee. Cambridge, MA, USA: Sternberg Press.


Keenan, Thomas. 2014. "Getting the Dead to Tell Me What Happened: Justice, Prosopopeia, and Forensic Afterlives", In Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth, ed. Forensic Architecture. Berlin: Sternberg Press, pp.35-55.


Kurgan, Laura. 2013. Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics, New York: Zone Books.


Mann, Itamar. 2018. "Maritime Legal Black Holes: Migration and Rightlessness in International Law" , The European Journal of International Law Vol. 29, no. 2


Mbembe, Achille. 2019. "Bodies as borders". FROM THE EUROPEAN SOUTH 4


Panese, Elio. 2022. "Border Violence by Other Means An Inquiry into the Embodied Experience of the Swiss Asylum Dispositif."


Parks, Lisa. 2009. "Digging into Google Earth: An analysis of "Crisis in Darfur", Geoforum 40: 535-545.


Turner, Simon. 2016. "What is a refugee camp? Explorations of the limits and effects of the camp." Journal of Refugee Studies 29, no. 2: 139-148.


Weizman, Eyal. 2014. "Forensics: Introduction", In Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth, ed. Forensic Architecture. Berlin: Sternberg Press, pp.9-32.


Winter, Yves. 2012. "Violence and Visibility", New Political Science, 34, no. 2: pp.195-202.

Ressources en bibliothèque


Moodle Link

In the programs

  • Semester: Spring
  • Exam form: During the semester (summer session)
  • Subject examined: Border Forensics
  • Lecture: 1 Hour(s) per week x 12 weeks
  • Project: 3 Hour(s) per week x 12 weeks

Reference week

13-14  AAC008  
14-15  AAC008  

Wednesday, 13h - 14h: Lecture AAC008

Wednesday, 14h - 17h: Project, other AAC008

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