Is it possible to decolonise the border? An essay on the epistemology of coloniality at interstate borders

Room E
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
17.15 – 19.00
border, geographical epistemology, nationality, postcolonialism

The idea that interstate borders are the mere result of existing cultural differences has been extensively criticised within border studies and border theory, especially for overlooking the role of power relations in determining what differences are fundamental for the establishment of states. Such an idea, however, has never been fully applicable to postcolonial societies and states, whose borders, for the most part, were demarcated prior to the acknowledgement, or even the existence, of any essential cultural differences, in a process which was permeated by the experience of coloniality. Therefore emerges the need for a theoretical effort to understand the legacy of colonialism in post-nominal-independence endeavours to draw borders and to subsequently create grand national narratives that could sustain the existence of such states based on the same grounds of a presumably-homogeneous content along whose peripheries appear transitional spaces between essential units marked by the border. My intention is, thus, to explore the conjectural possibility of the decolonisation of the border, primarily inspired by Walter Mignolo’s idea of border thinking, whereby borders no longer represent the peripheral zones between entities within which state power and culture are assumed to overlap but, rather, provide a new approach for understanding postcolonial societies by departing from the division lines in order to analyse and, in certain aspects, overcome the founding schisms upon which colonial epistemologies divided the world into incompatible and hierarchical extremes.

Gianlluca Simi
University of Nottingham
United Kingdom
gianlluca.simi [at]

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