Organized by our Europe Canada Network colleagues at the University of Victoria.
Borders have become a hotly contested issue in public debate. For some they suggest security, for others they denote practices of exclusion and human rights violations. Against the background of President Trump’s insistence on the wall on the US-Mexico border, the webinar will debate how in a global, seemingly border-free world, borders have taken on an important role of conceptualizing security and regulating migration.
Borders are critically linked to our common understanding of political community: Historically, borders are constitutive of territorially defined states, security, collective identities and citizenship. Borders have traditionally demarcated the sovereign nation-state and the society it represents. Yet, in the age of globalization borders have changed their form and function. The European Union, the nature of its transnational political community and in particular the Schengen zone are examples of how traditional borders between nation-states can become porous and challenged in their exclusionary logic of demarcating insiders and outsiders. However, at the same time borders have become the focal point of a heightened sense of security, for instance with a view to international terrorism or irregular migration. As a result, in contemporary we see a historically unprecedented cross border mobility (as one of the EU’s fundamental freedoms) and, at the same time, the securitization of the EU’s external borders. The European context points to a phenomenon that has also shaped public discourse in North America: The border is highly politicized. For some, stronger borders promise the defense of sovereignty and security, while for other the border has become the site of exclusion and human rights violations. The current debate in the USA about the border wall to Mexico and the claimed national emergency regarding security threats at this border is a vivid illustration of this politicization.
Oliver Schmidtke is Professor at the Department of Political Science and the Director of the Centre for Global Studies at the University Victoria. His research interests are in the fields of comparative European politics and contemporary history, European integration, the political sociology of immigration and ethnic conflict, and the role of identities and collective memory in modern societies.
Elisabeth Vallet is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Geography and scientific director of Geopolitics at the Raoul Dandurand Chair at the University of Quebec. Dr. Vallet will present aspects of her research on border fences in a globalised world. See our video here where she speaks about her research on the triggers for the increase of more borders/fences around the world and the impact this has for the redefinition of border lands and citizenship.
Moderator: Dr. Michael Carpenter is Postdoctoral Fellow Borders in Globalization at the University of Victoria