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The (im)materialities of borders

Olga Demetriou and Rozita Dimova UGent (2017) Rethinking Borders Series.
abstract
In this edited volume, we want to examine borders as a political condition. What ties nation-state borders of the last century to the salience of mental and physical (even if, due to technology, ‘unseen’) barriers is an underlying arrangement that mediates between the various materialities that produce and maintain them. These may be the translation of objects to affect, physical structures to conditions of movement, legal provisions to life choices, political maps to ideology, and so on. The volume consists of ethnographic and philosophical explorations of this mediation, to throw light on the interaction between the materiality of state borders and the non-material aspects of state-making. We therefore explore materiality as a political site. Discussion has all too often proceeded from the assumption of a border as a smooth line of separation to question the manifestations of governing difference and connection within the state. The fact that the state apparati congealing around a border actually hover between materiality and ideology in the forms of nation-state ideologies, territorial claims, or discourses of community, should alert us to the need for closer scrutiny of borders as key structures in this mediation between materiality and abstraction. This is a question that political philosophy seems to have forgotten to apply to borders, by contrast to buildings, documents, films, statues, markets, or arcades. The scrutiny of capitalism, liberalism, and sovereignty, needs to take the border into account, most obviously because it is a node between the levels such scrutiny tries to connect: state, inter-state, local, supra-national, global, etc. In pointing this out we also want to address the failure in border studies to look beyond the connections between state, territory, sovereignty and space. Hence, our question here is how these connections produce frames of governance anew. How does the border come to be a process? How do borders have presence if they are not seen? How different is this presence from that of the border which is seen, even feared, celebrated, or enjoyed? At those instants when a particular space is imagined as a border, it is a political imagination that is at work. It is not only border guards, passport scanners, or stamps that enact the state at those points. It is also bodies, thoughts, gestures, comportment. The relation between one and the other is one of dependence, and it is this dependence that often falls by the wayside when we preference one viewpoint over another. Moreover, this dependence creates ‘publics’, both at the border and in the heartland of states and communities: xenophobic, or anti-racist if the dependence is rooted in the securitization of migration; tourist, or consumerist if the dependence is centred on the enjoyment of the border; tax-paying or utility-dependent if the border is invested with infrastructure or delimits the extension of power and water grids. Scrutinising how these materialities of soil, water, buildings, grids, paper, are shaped by and reproduce borders, sheds new light on the proposition that borders extend everywhere.
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editor
Olga Demetriou and UGent
organization
year
type
bookEditor
publication status
unpublished
subject
keyword
politics, materiality, ideology, nation-state, borders
series title
Rethinking Borders Series
publisher
Manchester University Press
place of publication
Manchester, UK
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
B3
id
8065973
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-8065973
date created
2016-09-06 14:10:56
date last changed
2017-01-02 09:54:22
@book{8065973,
  abstract     = {In this edited volume, we want to examine borders as a political condition. What ties nation-state borders of the last century to the salience of mental and physical (even if, due to technology, {\textquoteleft}unseen{\textquoteright}) barriers is an underlying arrangement that mediates between the various materialities that produce and maintain them. These may be the translation of objects to affect, physical structures to conditions of movement, legal provisions to life choices, political maps to ideology, and so on. The volume consists of ethnographic and philosophical explorations of this mediation, to throw light on the interaction between the materiality of state borders and the non-material aspects of state-making. We therefore explore materiality as a political site. 
 
Discussion has all too often proceeded from the assumption of a border as a smooth line of separation to question the manifestations of governing difference and connection within the state. The fact that the state apparati congealing around a border actually hover between materiality and ideology in the forms of nation-state ideologies, territorial claims, or discourses of community, should alert us to the need for closer scrutiny of borders as key structures in this mediation between materiality and abstraction. This is a question that political philosophy seems to have forgotten to apply to borders, by contrast to buildings, documents, films, statues, markets, or arcades. The scrutiny of capitalism, liberalism, and sovereignty, needs to take the border into account, most obviously because it is a node between the levels such scrutiny tries to connect: state, inter-state, local, supra-national, global, etc. In pointing this out we also want to address the failure in border studies to look beyond the connections between state, territory, sovereignty and space. Hence, our question here is how these connections produce frames of governance anew. How does the border come to be a process?  How do borders have presence if they are not seen? How different is this presence from that of the border which is seen, even feared, celebrated, or enjoyed? At those instants when a particular space is imagined as a border, it is a political imagination that is at work. It is not only border guards, passport scanners, or stamps that enact the state at those points. It is also bodies, thoughts, gestures, comportment. The relation between one and the other is one of dependence, and it is this dependence that often falls by the wayside when we preference one viewpoint over another. Moreover, this dependence creates {\textquoteleft}publics{\textquoteright}, both at the border and in the heartland of states and communities: xenophobic, or anti-racist if the dependence is rooted in the securitization of migration; tourist, or consumerist if the dependence is centred on the enjoyment of the border; tax-paying or utility-dependent if the border is invested with infrastructure or delimits the extension of power and water grids. Scrutinising how these materialities of soil, water, buildings, grids, paper, are shaped by and reproduce borders, sheds new light on the proposition that borders extend everywhere.},
  editor       = {Demetriou, Olga  and Dimova, Rozita},
  keyword      = {politics,materiality,ideology,nation-state,borders},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {Manchester University Press},
  series       = {Rethinking Borders Series},
  title        = {The (im)materialities of borders},
  year         = {2017},
}

Chicago
Demetriou, Olga , and Rozita Dimova, eds. 2017. “The (im)materialities of Borders.” Rethinking Borders Series. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.
APA
Demetriou, O., & Dimova, R. (Eds.). (2017). The (im)materialities of borders. Rethinking Borders Series. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.
Vancouver
1.
Demetriou O, Dimova R, editors. The (im)materialities of borders. Rethinking Borders Series. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press; 2017.
MLA
Demetriou, Olga , and Rozita Dimova, eds. “The (im)materialities of Borders.” Rethinking Borders Series 2017 : n. pag. Print.