Viadrina Center B/ORDERS IN MOTION
Borders and Border Walls, a new era? (In)security, Symbolism, Vulnerabilities. International conference September 27-28, 2018
International conference organized by the Raoul Dandurand Chair at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The fall of the Berlin Wall and the following redefinition of international relations were meant to open an age of globalization in which states and sovereignty were to become obsolete and borders irrelevant. However, in the wake of 9/11, borders came back into focus and new ones were drawn. With this trend, border barriers, fences, and walls that were expected to be a historical symbol of a collapsed bipolar system were erected at a pace that defied all predictions.
Many of them are armored, cemented, monitored, filmed, and patrolled. In this new environment, walls, razor wire, sensors, helicopters, barriers, (wo)men, border guards and drones have become the accessories of hard borders in an open world, complemented and reinforced by policies oriented towards the double movement of externalization and internalization of borders and the hardening of visa and asylum policies.
Border walls though trigger quasi automatically a circumvention reflex, from a form of resistance through art, border projects, civil disobedience to the digging of tunnels and smuggling stratagems. With their bodies, through their presence, migrants resist as well. Walls lead to redrawn migration routes; they don’t deter crossings as shown by data from humanitarian and government agencies. Walls are not impermeable: there are no fortresses, solely control points, that owe much of their efficiency to their symbolic power, which does not hold much when migrants fear so much that nothing discourage them anymore, or when the economic disequilibrium between two neighboring countries works as a magnet for underground economy.
Often represented as way to gain security, border walls also impact daily life in the borderlands, redefining the surroundings and the lives of borderland communities, from the economic relations to the environment and wildlife. Through the process of internalized borders, individuals become sites of control and the experience of borders become individualized.
This redefinition of borderlands goes beyond the geographical border zone, impacting the regional system through the modification of political ties, economic relations and socio-cultural exchanges. Transborder flows, both commercial and human, are now front and center in international relations and interstates negotiation. Border walls shape interaction between states, organizations and individuals.
It is now clear that walls have become a normalized response to insecurity. Border walls redefine borderlines around the world, sealing and hardening what used to be porous soft borders. Thus, if globalization is blurring borders, walls emphasize them.
These infrastructures need to be assessed in terms of efficiency, economic, environmental and humane costs. Why build border barriers if they do not solve the issues they have been erected for? What should be done instead? What is the role of academia and border scholars? And where does the civil society come in? Border walls tangible impact on local societies, economies, and ecosystems, on world migrations, on national policies will be assessed too.
Political Science, Geography, Anthropology, Sociology, Law, Economics, Art, Design, Biology, Environmental studies, Area Studies, Gender studies, Zoology, Medical studies (this list is intended to be suggestive rather than inclusive).
Élisabeth Vallet (Raoul Dandurand Chair, UQAM – Canada), Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary (Geography, Université Joseph Fourier – France), Andréanne Bissonnette (Raoul Dandurand Chair, UQAM – Canada), Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly (Borders in Globalization, University of Victoria – Canada), Irasema Coronado (Political Science, University of Texas at El Paso – USA), Cristina Del Biaggio (Geography, Université Grenobles Alpes – France), Reece Jones (Geography, University of Hawaii – USA), Kenneth D. Madsen (Geography, The Ohio State University – USA), Said Saddiki (Law, Al-Ain University of Science and Technology – UAE).