Border as problems. But for whom?

Room E
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
17.15 – 19.00
everyday social practices, learning devices, state sovereignty, time and opportunity, unintended consequences

Borders are usually associated with something negative. They tend to be perceived as problems, as something that we need to solve or even get rid of. Most often, borders are described as obstacles to free movement of people and goods, as artificial lines, as creators of conflicts, disparities or rivalry. A wide literature and the media support this view, while specific EU policies and programmes are conceived to reduce borders' unfavorable character.

However, this kind of representations can hide many aspects of borders and border areas, as the fact that they are needed for democracy to limit power (Gaeta, 2011), or for people to make sense of space (Simmel, 1908), or that they were helpful to reduce wars (Schmitt, 1950).

Problems are the result of the knowledge that we use to construct them (Lindblom, 1990). Thus, through this paper I would like to draw the attention on different ways of perceiving and conceiving borders. Drawing from various sources (philosophy, arts or literature) and from the observation of everyday citizens' practices, I will focus on the many different - and sometimes inconsistent - meanings that can be assigned to borders.

Drawing mostly from former Yugoslavia examples, the objective will be to reflect on the unintended consequences put in place by everyday practices along borders, that can challenge their rigid character, the assumption that they are clear demarcating lines or the idea that they are problems.

Actually, borders can serve as learning devices. More then creating disparities, they create differences to learn from.

Ivana Venier
ivana.venier [at]

Organizing Partners

Main Sponsors