Prof. Dr. Markus Heide

Markus Heide is Associate Professor in American Studies at the Swedish Institute for North American Studies (SINAS). Most of his publications and international research projects deal with the history, the representation and the theoretical framing of migration, movement and mobility. In the fall of 2016 he was visiting research scholar at Dartmouth College (USA) with a project on historical travel reports, and in 2018 research fellow at UC San Diego, funded by a Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) Sabbatical, with a project on visibility and invisibility of border crossing processes at US-Mexico border sites and in art projects. In the past years he has lectured widely in Sweden and Europe on his field work on the aesthetics of the border and of border crossing. This research resulted in publications that explore questions of mobility from historical and conceptual perspectives:


The chapter “Imperial Knowledge Production on the Americas in Travel Writing of the Early Nineteenth Century in Cultural Mobility and Knowledge Formation in the Americas (2019) explores the significance of different concepts of mobility (as territorial expansion, military action, trade, diplomacy) in the cultural construction of the Americas as a space of historical, social and cultural unity. The analysis of three reports shows that what the historian Gretchen Murphy (2005) termed the “hemispheric frame” functions as a multifaceted concept that serves different purposes, such as marking the difference between Europe and the Americas, claiming anti-colonial and creole commonalities, endorsing US superiority and legitimating early endeavors of US empire building. The article contributes a historical perspective on the cultural significance of different forms of dominant and marginalized mobility.


The article “Repossessing Border Space: Security Practice in North American Border Art” in Comparative American Studies (2017) discusses how the visual arts engage in representing border crossing experiences and, more specifically, how art may interrupt border security practices and their rituals. The article argues that the selected works of art perform interventions that confront the public with the borderlands as a place of violence and death. At the same time, artists are shown to employ different strategies for making undocumented and “illegal” mobility visible. This approach emphasizes the contrast between forms of “official” mobility – such as international trade, tourism, business travel – and “minor” mobilities that are penalized or made invisible.


The chapter “Narcocorridos: Ethnic Tradition, Local Knowledge, and Commercialization.” (2015) discusses the growing popularity of the drug ballad (narcocorrido) in the context of the rise of drug related violence in Mexico and the US-Mexico borderlands. The article argues that local traditions of resistance against oppression and poverty are exploited for marketing celebratory and heroic representations of drug related violence. At the same time, the music genre’s celebration of smugglers, outlaws and bandits makes forms of minor mobility visible and gives voice to parts of a transnational border population that is stuck in poverty, curruption and marginalization.


In 2018 Heide’s Erasmus+ application (cooperation with 7 European universities) for a 3 year research collaboration on Hostfilm: Hospitality in Film was successful. The group examines types of representation of migration, refugees and undocumented border crossing in film. The project initiated an e-learning platform that provides material for studying refugee experiences of trauma and exclusion (see: In this context Heide published two film analyses: “Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” (2019) reads the 1974 migrant drama as a symbolic treatise on mechanisms of social control and exclusion. The analysis highlights the destructive power of ideologies defending community cohesion and notions of purity in modern societies. In such dominant exclusive ideologies, migration and interracial marriage can only be seen as a nuisance caused by unwelcome human mobility. “Aki Kaurismäki, The Other Side of Hope” analyses how the Finnish tragicomedy juxtaposes different domestic and public places where individuals go through various experiences of hospitality and hostility (Derrida). Acts of providing refuge create situations of hope – shown as providing security and protection for the guest and foreigner – within a broader social landscape of danger and hostility. These hopescapes reflect on the understanding and treatment of the refugee as guest. Both film analysis highlight the spatial conceptualizing of marginalization and exclusion. From such a perspective visibility and invisibility (of refugees, of migrants, of border crossers) emerges as a central aspect of “minoritizing” certain mobilities and making them “minor”.


Heide explores the intersection of border crossing and minoritized and marginalized forms of mobility in the interdisciplinary border studies research group at Uppsala University that organizes the international conference Migration and Contemporary Border Regimes: Sovereignty, Surveillance, Survival in 2020. 


Heide, Markus. “Imperial Knowledge Production on the Americas in Travel Writing of the Early Nineteenth Century.Cultural Mobility and Knowledge Formation in the Americas. Eds. Volker Depkat and Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2019. 31-50.


Heide, Markus. "Aki Kaurismäki, The Other Side of Hope (2017)." Hospitality and European Film, Erasmus+. March 2019.


Heide, Markus. "Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)." Hospitality and European Film, Erasmus+. March 2019.


Heide, Markus. “‘Learning from Las Vegas‘: Border Aesthetics, Disturbance, and Electronic Disobedience: An Interview with Performance Artist Ricardo Dominguez.” Journal of Borderlands Studies. Routledge DOI: 10.1080/08865655.2018.1490197 . 2018.


Heide, Markus. “Repossessing Border Space: Security Practice in North American Border Art.” Comparative American Studies 14 (2017): 191-213.


Heide, Markus. “The Poetry of Tino Villanueva: Texas, the Chicano Movement, Memory and Ekphrasis.” Comparative American Studies: An International Journal 15 (2017): 91-98.


Heide, Markus. “Narcocorridos: Ethnic Tradition, Local Knowledge, and Commercialization.” Selling Ethnicity and Race: Consumerism and Representation in Twenty-First-Century America. Ed. G. Pisarz-Ramirez et al. Trier: Wissenschaftliche Verlag, 2015. 197-211.

  2018–2023 European Network for the Study of Minor Mobilities in the Americas       Code and Design by Steffen Wöll