Border-Building: The Temporal And Material Process Of Border Management at the Aegean Islands
This interdisciplinary research project delves into the uncharted territory of the architecture and materiality of border spaces, with a specific focus on the islands of the Aegean Sea. Situated within the evolving discourse of border and migration studies, the project introduces the novel concept of "border-building." It aims to understand how the design and infrastructure of border facilities both reflect and enact state policies and political narratives. Through extensive fieldwork, interviews, and architectural surveys, the research investigates the tangible aspects of border-making and their interplay with the broader socio-political landscape. It challenges traditional state-centric views by highlighting the active role of migrants in shaping these environments. The project raises critical questions about how the built environment affects migration experiences and policies, seeking to offer a nuanced and holistic understanding of borders in today's world.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Kenny Cupers
Co-Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Andrew Tucker
3rd Suprvisor: Prof. Dr. Sarah Lopez
Alaa Dia is an architect, lecturer, and PhD candidate in the Urban Studies department at the University of Basel. With academic roots in Architecture from the Lebanese University and Urban Design from ETH Zürich, Alaa's work sits at the compelling intersection of architecture, urban studies, and migration research.
Before his current role at the University of Basel, Alaa contributed as a principal researcher to the project "Infrastructure Space and the Future of Migration Management: The EU Hotspots in the Mediterranean Borderscape." This interdisciplinary project, funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies, examined the transformational role of infrastructure in border spaces across five Mediterranean nations. Alaa led the exploration of spatial and architectural dimensions within this context. In earlier roles, Alaa served as a doctoral researcher and teaching assistant at ETH Zürich's Department of Architecture. His postgraduate research under Prof Marc Angélil investigated the social and architectural impacts of refugee communities in Germany. This work was featured in the "Inclusive Urbanism" exhibition at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt in 2017. By merging architecture with social sciences, Alaa seeks to offer a nuanced and holistic understanding of the complexities of border and migration dynamics.
Research Focus: Border Studies, Migration Studies, Architecture, Urban Studies.
List of Publications
- 2021: Ayata, B., Cupers, K., Dia, A., Fyssa, A. & Pagano, C. (2021) "The Implementation of the EU Hotspot Approach in Greece and Italy: A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Analysis." Swiss Network for International Studies.
List of Presentations
- 2023 ETH - DocTalks - in Architectural History and Theory. Moderation: Arrival Architecture.
- 2022 ETH - DocTalks - in Architectural History and Theory. Paper Presentation: Dia (2022), The Role of Infrastructure in EU Migration Management, 2.0 Hotspots.
- 2022 Research Field Trip: multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork to the Aegean Islands, reception facilities.
- 2021 Universität Kassel - Kolloquium Presentation, zu Baracken und Lagern im deutschsprachigen Raum FG Architekturtheorie und Entwerfen der Universität Kassel: Presentation: Dia (2021), The pre-fabrication of Migration Management Infrastructure.
- 2021 The Royal Geography Conference, RGS-IBG. Conference Paper: Dia (2021). The Role of Infrastructure in EU Migration Management: An Architectural Lens.
- 2021 ESCAPES Conference, Mediterranean Crossings: Refusal and Resistance in Uncertain Times. Conference Paper: Dia (2019) The Role of Infrastructure in EU Migration Management.
- 2020 Conference (Participation and presentation), EWIS 2020 Conference co-authored paper: Ayata, B., Cupers, K., Dia, A., Fyssa, A. & Pagano, C. (2020) The EU Hotspot Approach as Infrastructure Space: Migration Management in the Mediterranean Borderscape.
- 2020 Lecture given at Critical Urbanism Winter School, “Migration Infrastructure: Mapping The European Border Regime.” The Lecture titled: Mapping the Greek Hotspots.
- 2020 Presented and Co-Organized, SNIS “Data-analysis” Workshop, Department of Social Science at the University of Basel.
- 2019 Research Workshop, Mediterranean Fascism(s). Critical Urbanism, Urban Studies, University of Basel.
- 2019 Research Field Trip: multi-sited ethnographic to EU “hotspot” facilities in Greece and Italy, followed by a visit to the main Reception facilities in Tunisia.
- 2018 Research Workshop, Studying Infrastructure Across Disciplines. University of Basel/ University of Freiburg. Basel.
- 2018 Presented and Co-Organized the SNIS “Kick-off” Workshop, Department of Social Science at the University of Basel.
- 2017. Co-Organized ETH Seminar Week HS2017 on Roof constructions and vaults from the XIIth to the XIXth century in Southern Germany. IDB (Institut für Denkmalpflege und Bauforschung), D-ARCH, ETH.
- 2017 Exhibition: Presented my Master’s project at “Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country” in Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt Main (DAM). Frankfurt.
Memberships & Affiliations
- 2021– Teaching Committee (TC), Communication Committee (CC) and Management Committee (MC) of the MA Critical Urbanism program, Urban Studies, University of Basel.
- 2021– PhD representative at PhD Student Group (PhDSG), Urban Studies, University of Basel.
- 2021– G3S steering committee, Social Science, University of Basel.
Active Membership in Scientific Societies
- 2021– Member of PhD Student Group (PhDSG), Urban Studies, University of Basel.
- 2019– Member of the Graduate School of Social Sciences – G3S Social Science, University of Basel.
- 2017– Alumni ETH Zurich.
- 2016– Member of the Order of Engineers & Architects in Beirut, Lebanon.
- 2021– MA courses at the University of Basel: Critical Cartography (FS2023), Visualizing Urban Research (FS2022 and FS2021), and Critical Urbanism: Current Debates (FS2021).
University of Basel
Department of Social Sciences