Borderwork and its contraries: boundary-making and the re-imagining of borders

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This chapter proposes to widen Chris Rumford’s ‘borderwork’ concept with a meaningful shift from ‘border-’ to ‘boundary-‘. Transcending the limitations of his conceptualization, this more comprehensive notion of ‘boundary-work’ captures the activities not only of those formally tasked to maintain state borders together with many categories of persons who confront them, but also a wide range of conscious and non-conscious human actions that contribute to the location or the character of borders. I seek thereafter to embed ‘boundary-work’ in human experience of movement and fixity (the real, together with the imagined), such that experiences of impediments to mobility constitute boundaries. An account of the mental maps implicit in diverse forms of contemporary life generates various accounts of how human beings’ attachment to territory is mirrored in their perception of boundaries. This take on human experience of movement and fixity underpins a broader and deeper-grounded understanding of the variety of behaviour which may constitute boundary- and border-work. Furthermore, this situates the behaviour of refugees and migrants within a range of other human behaviours, thus casting them in significantly different light. Instead of eccentric threats to state borders, refugees and migrants emerge as ordinary human beings comparable with the normal run of ‘boundary-working’ human beings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDebating and Defining Borders : philosophical and theoretical perspecitves
EditorsAnthony Cooper, Søren Tinning
Number of pages14
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)9780815357179
ISBN (Electronic)9781351124881
Publication statusPublished - 2019
SeriesRoutledged Borderland Studies

ID: 231553851