Border Research

State of the Art

Contemporary social, political, economic and cultural concerns about borders are partly reflected by the contemporary state of debate. While no one denies the reality and power of state borders, these borders are more and more understood as multifaceted social institutions rather than solely as formal political markers of sovereignty. On this view, borders help condition how societies and individuals shape their strategies and identities. At the same time, borders themselves can be seen as products of a social and political negotiation of space; they frame social and political action and are constructed through institutional and discursive practices at different levels and by different actors. Borders are produced and reproduced, for example, in situations of conflict where historical memories are mobilised to support territorial claims, to address past injustices or to strengthen group identity – often by perpetuating negative stereotypes of the “other”. However through new institutional and discursive practices contested borders can also be transformed into symbols of co-operation and of common historical heritage.

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