Season Four: the Walls we build

What is a border and how does it define or divide us? How do borders shape global issues, like climate change, migration, war, and economic disparity? And what about borders within countries, or cities, or even inside families, which shape our personal lives and how we relate to our communities?

On Spec explores the stories behind actual walls — who’s profiting from them, and how they impact communities. And we try to understand the metaphorical walls too: what’s it like to confront outdated tribal stereotypes, or cross the barrier between activism and law enforcement?  We even take a look at how a river is affected both by man-made barriers and historical ones.

In this season, On Spec went to find out in: France, Peru, and Zambia, as well as in the Mediterranean Sea, and along the frontiers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the United States and Mexico.  We meet people whose lives are larger than the barriers they find themselves confronting. We learn what it is like to cross borders between countries at war, neighborhoods that distrust each other, and tribes that might live in the same place, but carry a long history of stereotypes.

Click here to learn more about the people involved in bringing you Season Four.

Fortress Europe is a House of Cards

The French town of Calais is at the heart of a massive security infrastructure program meant to keep refugees and migrants from crossing the English Channel into the United Kingdom. Over the past 20 years, French and British authorities have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on walls, fences, different types of cameras, more police...

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Surrogacy, War, and Survival in Ukraine

Guest Host Nadene Ghouri tells the story of how her search for a surrogate mother for her child brought her to Ukraine, and how she found herself repaying the ultimate kindness by helping one woman flee the war there.

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Spy on the Mediterranean

Europe is prosecuting human rights activists that help save lives in the Mediterranean Sea, where thousands of migrants and refugees have drowned as they attempt to evade some of the world’s most powerful naval forces and reach European shores in search of a better life. The charges, allegations of human trafficking that could land activists...

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When a Frozen Conflict Wakes Up

For several decades now, the region of Nagorno-Karabakh has been a source of tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan, occasionally resulting in a real war, like in 2020. But along the shores of lake Joghaz, there are villagers old enough to recall what it was like to live together when both countries were Soviet republics. Today...

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Tribe and Prejudice

Tribal identities continue to play a role in social and political rifts in many parts of the world, even erupting into outright conflict. In the southern African nation of Zambia, a younger generation now attempts to bridge the gap between different tribes. But long-held stereotypes make it difficult for Zambians to discard their tribal identity...

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A Nation’s Two Sides

Peru has long struggled with political, cultural, racial, and economic divides, a source of tension that propelled the leftist former schoolteacher Pedro Castillo to the Presidency last year. In the city of Lima, the complex social jigsaw puzzle manifests itself physically: the “Wall of Shame” is three meters high and ten kilometeres long, separating the...

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Keeping the Colorado

The Colorado River runs through seven US states and crosses into Mexico, helping sustain 40 million people living along its banks and far beyond. It’s been dammed 15 times, part of an effort to capture its waters for the people living along its banks. But the Colorado is drying up, and communities along the river...

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