Boundaries and the Europeanisation of Space: The EU, Integration and Evolving Theoretical Perspectives on Borders
Rather, I would welcome very much a more lively and engaged discussion on the justification of our borderings per se. I believe, the present debate and field of border studies would be enriched if it would embark on the discussion of the morality and immorality of borders. (State) borders are too much taken for granted. In political philosophy some interesting new insights are being given with regard to this matter. Walzer (1983), for instance, provocatively states that communities should not be allowed to make a claim of territorial jurisdiction and rule over the people with whom they share a territory. He argues that, although admission and exclusion are at the core of communal independence, the rule of citizens over non-citizens and members over strangers is ‘an act of tyranny’. Seyla Benhabib, following Kant’s essay on eternal peace and Derrida’s essay on hospitality, also critically looks at the justification of borders (Benhabib, 1996). She ponders the question what is the ethical difference between the right to leave a democratic country, since in democratic societies citizens are not prisoners, and the right for others to enter? In a similar critical vein, philosopher Will Kymlicka (2001) argues that borders are “a source of embarrassment for liberals of all stripes”. For liberals, he argues, it is not clear how the existence of territorial boundaries can be justified at all, “at least if these boundaries prevent individuals from moving freely, and living, working and voting in whatever part of the globe they see fit” (p. 249, 2001). “Any political theory”, he goes on to say, “which has nothing to say about these questions is seriously flawed. Moreover, the result, intentional or unintentional, is to tacitly support the conservative view that existing boundaries and restrictive membership are sacrosanct” (p. 253, 2001). In the present debate, it is tacitly assumed that (state) borders are here and here to stay and the only thing that can be critically engaged with is the way borders are being produced and reproduced. Although I would agree that the focus on the how is a crucial and meaningful focus in border studies that needs continuation, I believe that this lens could be widened to open up for a debate on alternative ways to produce territories and spatialise our social lives. If indeed we accept the view that borders are human-made, it would be needed to not only ask the question why humans are producing and reproducing borders, but also what moral consequences do the (re)produced borders, are they justified and are there socio-spatial alternatives that could be produced?
“Two decades since the Berlin Wall came down, BBC Mundo looks at walls and barriers around the world which are still standing – or have been put up – since 1989.”
Update 7 Nov 2009: If you are in or near Berlin on Monday, 9th November 2009, join the Mauer Mob:
“The Berlin Wall project is about creating a “temporary monument of reflection”. When it was created, the wall was one of the clearest man-made divisions of people with different ideologies. For the 20th anniversary of its deconstruction we will rebuild the Berlin Wall, not from steel and concrete, but from people. To remember when Berlin became one again after decades of separations – physically as well as in the minds…
With the “Mauer Mob. 09 Project”, we want to say that such divisions are no longer acceptable in today’s society.”
Update 11 Nov 2009: Mike Johnston – Borders (be sure to read ‘mcananeya’s’ featured comment, too):
“I’ve always thought borders were strange places because it’s a strange idea—an arbitrary line through the landscape where one “place” supposedly ends and another supposedly begins. They makes sense on maps and in our heads, but maybe not so much at the actual location where they’re said to exist. The exception, of course, is when people take them very seriously, like the DMZ between North and South Korea. At those places, our conceptual world exercises its literal hold over our freedom to move about.”
Brian Rose: The Lost Border – Photographs of the Iron Curtain.
“In 2003, I carried a plastic Holga camera with me for about 8 months during my travels. What began as a simple diversion became a sort of therapy and exercise in seeing. Because of the limitations of the camera, I was unable to precisely control composition and exposure. The camera leaked light causing color shifts and quite unexpected results. Photography with this camera became more about the act of making a picture rather then the picture itself, and I experimented with making only one picture of any given situation. Instinct and reflex were the only guiding principles in making the pictures. The result was pictures that were not “about” anything at all but were still, in their way, “true”. Thus the title, Nonfiction.”
David Eaves: “A closed border is like a closed mind – over time you become less receptive to new ideas or information and begin to atrophy.”