Context Column

Content

New Publication: The Meaning of Borders for National Identity and State Authority

Reinke de Buitrago, Sybille. 2016. The Meaning of Borders for National Identity and State Authority. In: Border Politics: Defining Spaces of Governance and Forms of Transgression, eds. Cengiz Günay and Nina Witjes. ADD-On 15/16, Yearbook of the Austrian Institute for International Affairs – oiip, Springer International Publishing (2016 e-book, 2017), p. 143-158.

 

Abstract

What do national borders mean today? Can they be effectively maintained in times of massive humanitarian crises and refugee influx? What do such mass movements imply both for the authority and sovereignty of states and how do they affect debates on national identity? This chapter debates these questions on a conceptual level. Premised on the perspectives of critical geopolitics and post-structuralism, it enquires into concepts of bordering, ordering and othering. National borders function to distinguish, demarcate and divide, to protect and maintain a particular socio-political system with specific norms, but they are also points of contact. In a globalized and more populous world, with the possibility of masses of people moving more readily between countries, new processes of identification with and differentiation from an ‘other’ are likely to emerge. The national sense of belonging may be both diluted and enlarged. Re-definitions of self-other relations in response to events are significant because they likely impact the prospects of constructively dealing with the challenges posed by this migration. In light of the European Union’s Schengen regime that has strong external but soft internal borders, this chapter focuses on the nexus of borders, authority and identity, and considers processes of othering, ordering and bordering in the context of the current refugee crisis.