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Lorenzo Cañás Bottos

Based on fieldwork undertaken in 2004–2005, I analyze how the Irish border has been constructed, represented, challenged, and imagined by both the state and borderlanders as a means to discuss processes of constructing sovereignty. I focus on the concept of “assemblage” to integrate and highlight the tensions and contradictions between different levels of analysis: the juridical, the academic representation of the border, and the memories and practices of borderlanders. I argue that sovereignty, rather than a claim to be taken at face value by states, is the emergent property of the combination of a variety of forces, forms, and practices involved in the making of borders, and that its very enactment also produces anti-sovereign effects.

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Laurie Kain Hart

This article examines how territory, the built environment, and the entropy of material things through time transmit and modulate legacies of ethno-national and global conflicts. Taking the Greek Civil War as a ‘critical event’, framed by its antecedents and its sequelae, I consider how overlapping histories of war at the international tri-state border of northwest Greek Macedonia and in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina shape dwelling, the control of space, and historical memory. The analysis explores how catastrophic events become materially embedded, how events age in place, and what role changing infrastructure plays in the commutation or preservation of injuries suffered in violent, especially internecine, conflict.

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A Divided City in a Common Market

EU Citizenship and Everyday Instrumentalities on the Polish-German Border

Andrew D. Asher

Based on an ethnographic case study in the border cities of Frankfurt (Oder), Germany and Słubice, Poland, this article explores the construction and maintenance of ethnic difference within the transnational economic and social spaces created by the European Union's common market. Through an examination of three domains of cross-border citizenship practice - shopping and consumption, housing and work - this article argues that even as the European Union deploys policies aimed at creating de-territorialised and supranational forms of identity and citizenship, economic asymmetries and hierarchies of value embedded within these policies grant rights differentially in ways that continue to be linked to ethnicity and nationality.

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Nonrecording the “European refugee crisis” in Greece

Navigating through irregular bureaucracy

Katerina Rozakou

This article explores nonrecording on the borders of Europe during the “European refugee crisis” in 2015. It examines the ambiguous practices of border control and the diverse actors involved. Taking the island of Lesvos as its starting point, the article interrogates how state functionaries manage an “irregular” bureaucracy. Irregular bureaucracy is approached as an essential element of state-craft , rather than an indication of state failure. Nonrecording is thus a crucial site of contestation between the state, nonstate agents, and the government, as well as between Greece and “Europe.” Nevertheless, despite the prevalence of irregularity, the imagery associated with ideal bureaucracy—a system of absolute knowledge, control, and governance of populations—is powerful; and yet, the actors are fully aware that it is a fantasy.

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The Glass Curtain

Bridges from Ethnography to Art

Katharina Eisch-Angus

In an interdisciplinary workshop in the former Iron Curtain borderlands of the Czech Republic and Bavaria seven multi-national artists and one European ethnologist revealed the cultural dynamics of boundaries both by exploring an expressive landscape and memory field, and by experiencing cultural difference as reflected in the co-operation and creation processes within the group. By using ethnographic approaches to assist the process of developing and conceptualising artworks and self-reflexive, ethno-psychoanalytic interpretation, the project followed the impact of twentieth-century border frictions and violence into collective identities, but also the arbitrary character of borders. The results suggest how a multi-perspective, subjectively informed methodology of approaching space and spatially expressed memory could be developed both for ethnology and for art, bridging the supposed gap between 'artistic' and 'scientific' methods by combining their strengths in a complementary way.

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Kirk Simpson and Hastings Donnan

In this article we focus on Protestant and Catholic relationships in the borderlands of south Armagh in Northern Ireland and north Monaghan in the Irish Republic. Studies that emphasise Protestant and Catholic relationships at the urban or macro level have done little to unravel the complex processes of relationship-building that operate along the border, where Catholic and Protestant not only live in close proximity to one another and cooperate in a range of everyday activities, but where in the recent past each 'side' has used ethnic identity to select targets for assassination. The complexities of intercommunal dynamics in rural border areas and the ways in which they impact upon relationships between border Protestants and Catholics are discussed, with particular reference to moments that have significantly shaped their political subjectivity, most notably the sectarian violence that erupted in 1969 and which was formally brought to a close by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Such complexities, we suggest, muddy the over-dichotomised view of the Irish borderlands that often informs public policy making.

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Performing the Border

Cartographic Enactments of the German-Polish Border among German and Polish High-school Pupils

Marie Sandberg

On the basis of fieldwork conducted in the two towns Görlitz and Zgorzelec, situated directly on the German-Polish border, this article explores how different versions of the border are enacted among Polish and German high-school pupils. As is usually the case with borders, the German-Polish border has a multiple, even ambivalent character. Inspired by the performative approach within actor-network theory, this article aims to qualify the concept of the multiple border, where multiplicity is understood as heterogeneous practices and patterns of absences and presences that constitute the border. The data, based on ethnographic fieldwork, consist of 'cartographies', maps made by the pupils, followed up by 'walking conversations' in the two towns on the border. The analysis shows that the border is not only enacted differently; also it is suggested that the performances all deal with and constitute an ambivalent border.

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Border/land Sustainability

Communities at the External Border of the European Union

Karri Kiiskinen

This article contrasts the Finnish-Russian and Polish-Ukrainian borderlands situated at the external border of the EU. Based on multi-sited fieldwork, it observes how such EU level development concepts as sustainability and multiculturalism address cultural sharing as well as engage communities. Here everyday border crossings are limited, but the policies and practices of cross-border co-operation seek to produce sustainable border crossings in terms of projects and networking. The negotiations of the EU border by local Polish and Finnish actors reflect co-existing and alternative imaginations of borderland heritage. These heritages seem to suggest the 'right' ways not only for border crossings, but also for addressing the continuity and experience of cultural diversity. It is argued that recollections of borderland materiality in these ceded lands become a means for negotiating cultural borders, and verify the difference between European borderlands and borders.

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Cross-Border Networks

Labour Migration from Iran to the Arab Countries of the Persian Gulf

Shahnaz R. Nadjmabadi

This article examines migration between the Iranian coastal regions of the Persian Gulf and the nearby Arab countries. At the centre of the research are questions about cross-border relationships, the construction of transnational spaces in border migration and strategies for maintaining networks in both the home and host countries. The transnational space connecting the Iranian coastal region and the Arab countries resembles other cases of border migration. However, unlike previous studies on border migration, this analysis situates the development of transnational spaces of migrants' lives within the deep-rooted common and historical perspectives in the countries on both sides of the Persian Gulf.

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Ben Saunders

Arash Abizadeh has recently argued that political communities have no right to close their borders unilaterally, since by doing so they subject outsiders to coercion which lacks democratic justification. His conclusion is that any legitimate regime of border controls must be justified to outsiders. David Miller has sought to defend closed borders by distinguishing between coercion and prevention and arguing that the latter does not require democratic justification. This paper explores a different route, arguing firstly that the requirements of democracy do not provide us with practical guidance unless we also consider other values, such as rights, and secondly that being subject to coercion does not entitle one to democratic justification. These arguments suggest that Abizadeh is wrong to hold closed borders in need of democratic justification.