The lines that continue to separate us: Borders in our 'borderless' world

  • Newman D
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Abstract

The study of borders has undergone a renaissance during the past decade. This is reflected in an impressive list of conferences, workshops and scholarly publications. This renaissance has been partly due to the emergence of a counternarrative to the borderless and deterritorialized world discourse which has accompanied much of globalization theory. The study of borders has moved beyond the limited confines of the political geography discourse, crossing its own disciplinary boundaries, to include sociologists, political scientists, historians, international lawyers and scholars of international relations. But this meeting of disciplines has not yet been successful in creating a common language or glossary of terms which is relevant to all scholars of borders. Central to the contemporary study of borders are notions such as `borders are institutions', the process of `bordering' as a dynamic in its own right, and the border terminologies which focus on the binary distinctions between the `us' and `them', the `included' and the `excluded'. Borders should be studied not only from a top-down perspective, but also from the bottom up, with a focus on the individual border narratives and experiences, reflecting the ways in which borders impact upon the daily life practices of people living in and around the borderland and transboundary transition zones. In positing an agenda for the next generation of border-related research, borders should be seen for their potential to constitute bridges and points of contact, as much as they have traditionally constituted barriers to movement and communication.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Border as institution
  • Border as process
  • Border narratives
  • Borderlands
  • Borders
  • Boundaries
  • Interdisciplinary discourse
  • Power relations

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Authors

  • David Newman

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