Right now there are more border walls on Earth than there have ever been in the planet’s history. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 there were 15, now there are 77 around the world. As border scholar Jenny Stümer says in the following podcast, “In order to build border walls you need the support of a lot of people, in order to get that you have to tap into a particular imaginary.” The narrative so often depicted in that imaginary is all over the movies and media: as the end of the world looms near, only a wall can “save us.”
You might recognize Jenny’s name from the open thread on “wall sickness” that we did here at The Border Chronicle on November 30. If you haven’t seen that yet, I strongly encourage you to go back and check it out, there was a wealth of information shared by Jenny and the other panelists. That open thread was inspired by a panel titled “The Psychological and Mental Dimensions of Border Walls” from a conference at the University of Quebec in Montreal in October.
Jenny works at the University of Heidelberg in the Käte Hamburger Center for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies. Besides being a border scholar, she has a PhD in film and media studies. Her book Walled Life: Concrete, Cinema, and Art (published earlier this year) brings that convergence of film and borders together, especially—as she will explain—in this age of catastrophic climate change.
In this conversation we begin with the media and movies and actors like Brad Pitt stopping zombie uprisings using border walls such as was the case in World War Z. That’s where we start, but after that our discussion goes deep and in multiple—and sometimes inspiring and revealing—directions.
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