Territories, places and scales in motion. Civil society initiatives along the Polish-German border

Room E
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
17.15 – 19.00
border, civil society, cross-border cooperation, Germany, Poland

The term “borderwork” (Rumford 2009) describes the ability of ordinary people to shift, perpetuate or erase borders, which has often been neglected in more state-centered analyses of processes of re- and de-bordering within political geography. Building upon the TPSN-Scheme introduced by Jessop et al. (2008), my talk is intended to render the idea of borderwork more precise, and opts for a multidimensional perspective. It therefore emphasizes the intersections between territory, place, scale and network, questioning the privileging of any single perspective within geography and border studies.

Based upon these conceptual reflections my contribution establishes a comparative perspective on border-crossing civil society initiatives in the fields of culture, leisure and education in the Polish-German twin towns of Zgorzelec/Görlitz, Gubin/Guben and Słubice/Frankfurt (Oder). These towns were divided after World War II and have once again received political attention following the eastward enlargement of the European Union. These initiatives can be described as powerful actors, due to their strategic position in transnational networks (Nugent 2012). Therefore analyzing such projects provides a powerful heuristic with which to demonstrate the diverse understandings of the border, which become nested in the border region. These range from the conflicting interests of socio-cultural and political actors to the ambivalent concurrence of the EU-paradigm of “growing together” and ongoing national divisions.

Nicolai Teufel
University of Bayreuth
nicolai.teufel [at]

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