Borders, Frontiers and Boundaries (TP C 03)

On behalf of SFB/CRC Project C03, we are pleased to invite you to attend an interdisciplinary workshop entitled ‘Borders Frontiers and Boundaries’, on June 25th and June 26th. 

What is a border, frontier or boundary? Is there such a thing as a natural border? How has our awareness of these concepts changed over time? The meaning of borders, frontiers and boundaries has largely been interpreted through political prisms, which often neglects mobility as well as historical, social and economic dimensions. Consequently, the distinction between these words has largely become bound up with the heuristic devices of the political sphere, and in particular the notion of the nation-state. Borders are, in the main, seen as a line separating two countries or regions. This physical line can also be termed a boundary, and yet a boundary could also be a line between something much smaller such as the boundary around property. A frontier, in common parlance, denotes a zone within a border, which could also be a front. The word also has settler connotations, as in the American West, representing uncharted territory or a wilderness, as opposed to the areas explored and developed by settlers.

Our usage of these words is problematic in that they are typically bound to specific contexts and time-frames. If we push the frontiers of spatial awareness to historical periods that predate these modern conceptions, we can arrive at very different understandings of what borders, frontiers and boundaries were, where they existed, how they were recognised, what function they served, and how they were broken. This workshop seeks to reinterpret these words using a variety of disciplines, historical periods, and spaces. It will engage our thinking about the processes of exclusion and inclusion, as well as the notion of hybrid identities.