Border Research

Borders and Europe

This research portal will also help demonstrate how borders in and of Europe are understood in current academic, political and cultural debates. In a broader European perspective it is absolutely vital to distance ourselves from the rather simplistic vision of European integration as a shift from nationally motivated identification towards a new supra-national understanding of Europe and its borders. The challenge, rather, is to recognise the many ways in which national and European elements co-exist in the construction of borders within and between different political cultures and how these images continue to shape opinions and attitudes on borders in different European countries. The period following the fall of the Iron Curtain cannot be understood simply in terms of greater border permeability, convergence and challenges of economic integration. Other ramifications of enlargement include more complex social understandings of Europe as a political community and cultural space (Calhoun 2007). We therefore aim to distinguish between the different ways in which national and European border representations are intertwined in the political language and culture of different European nation-states and what kind of preconditions this offers for a shared view on Europe and its borders.

We assume that academic debates, political discourses, cultural interpretations and border “stories” as related by the popular media are equally important to understanding representations of European borders and are often closely interlinked. For this reason, we will analyse these four sources in equal terms. At the same time, we do not suggest that these different, important strands of European representation are additive, but they do indicate particular possibilities of shifts in the way European history is used.

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