Viadrina Center B/ORDERS IN MOTION


Annual Conference der Association for BorderlandsStudies, April 1-4, 2020 Portland, Oregon, USA

2020 Annual Conference
April 1-4, 2020
Portland, Oregon, USA
Marriott Downtown Waterfront
1401 SW Naito Pkwy


In contrast to the complexity and differentiation suggested by much recent academic literature, borders continue to be conceived of and represented by mainstream politics and the media in an overly simplistic way. Much recent political and public debate has regressed into nationalistic, state-centric thinking and populist rhetoric, reducing the idea of borders to be mere protective frontlines. We seek to promote a more comprehensive understanding of b/ordering processes and the major challenges affecting changing scenarios of globalised contemporaneity. This implies that more attention should be given to how theoretical innovations can be connected to empirical findings and can be of relevance to policy communities. Border research should transcend boundaries between scholarly, applied, public, and activist categories, creating something that redefines practice.

The territorialisation of populist discourses and the resurgence of spatial and nationalist identities are creating new kinds of cleavages, while borders have become symbolic and concrete resources for populist political agendas. Spatially exclusionary policies are redefining relations between democracy and space, while narratives about place and the exclusion of others accentuate anxieties and ontological insecurities. With this call, we draw attention to the rise of populist politics; populism and neo-nationalism as (re)bordering; and the role of populism in activating tensions surrounding borders and the meaning of sovereignty, contested historical memory, and migration. With an increasing securitisation of mobility and bodies, the study of borders has become inseparable from questions of xenophobia, fear, exclusion and inequality – a somewhat radical shift from the idea that national borders express alternatives, multiple sovereignties, political recognition and freedom from externally imposed constraints.

Today, an increasingly tense geopolitical climate has overshadowed much of the innovative conceptual (re-)framing of borders as social, political, economic and cultural spaces. Neo-nationalism, populism, xenophobia, as well as border violence, appear to refute the potential of borders to connect but they can also draw attention to the fact that many crucial questions about borders and border-making remain unanswered. A more nuanced and critical understanding of borders as both challenge and resource is urgently needed in order to better understand and interpret the broad socio-political transformations taking place in the world. We believe that border scholarship can provide tools to analyse and understand xenophobia, exclusion, and inequality by fragmenting territorial aspects of political radicalization across the world and by exposing the political use of borders for promoting and advancing exclusionary and defensive policies.


Program chair and coordinator:
•    ABS President-Elect Dr. Jussi P. Laine, University of Eastern Finland

Program Advisory Committee:
•    Dr. Naomi Chi, Hokkaido University, Japan
•    Dr. Adriana Dorfman, The Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
•    Dr. Chiara Brambilla, University of Bergamo, Italy  
•    Dr. Inocent Moyo, University of Zululand, South Africa
•    Dr. Christophe Sohn, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research
•    Dr. Anna Casaglia, University of Trento, Italy
•    Dr. Laurie Trautman, Western Washington University, USA
•    Dr. Paul Richardson, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom