Securitized Borderlands

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Borders have recently attracted a lot of academic scrutiny. Two very distinct types of literature have attempted to capture the current evolution of borders. The first one, leaning more toward the field of security studies, puts the emphasis on the
  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at  Journal of Borderlands Studies ISSN: 0886-5655 (Print) 2159-1229 (Online) Journal homepage: Securitized Borderlands Martin Deleixhe, Magdalena Dembinska & Julien Danero Iglesias To cite this article:  Martin Deleixhe, Magdalena Dembinska & Julien Danero Iglesias(2019) Securitized Borderlands, Journal of Borderlands Studies, 34:5, 639-647, DOI:10.1080/08865655.2018.1445547 To link to this article: Published online: 24 Oct 2019.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 83View related articles View Crossmark data  INTRODUCTION Securitized Borderlands Martin Deleixhe a , Magdalena Dembinska b and Julien Danero Iglesias c a Centre de recherche en sciences politiques (CReSPo), Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles, Bruxelles, Belgium; b Department of Political Science, Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada;  c Affiliate Researcher,University of Glasgow, London, UK  ABSTRACT Borders have recently attracted a lot of academic scrutiny. Two verydistinct types of literature have attempted to capture the currentevolution of borders. The first one, leaning more toward the fieldof security studies, puts the emphasis on the rampantsecuritization, the coercive dimension of borders, and theirdivisive consequences. The second, looks at the rich environmentsurrounding borders, where boundaries are seen as the meetingpoint of a variety of cultures and communities. Those socialspaces, known as borderlands, are the cradle of hybrid identitiesand transnational networks that contest the State ’ s claim toultimate sovereignty over its territory. Against this backdrop, theambition of this special issue lies in its aim to fill theoretically andempirically this gap by looking at securitized borderlands. Thisintroductory article delineates the contours of and puts togetherthe main findings of both security studies on borders andborderlands studies. It announces the objectives of thesubsequent articles, which together look into the interactionbetween the securitized borders and the social spaces they bothobstruct and dynamize. In spite of and within this peculiarlyadverse environment of   “ securitized borderlands, ”  cross bordersocieties remain in existence, resist, comply, and adjust. Paradoxical border(land)s Borders encircle the territory on which a State claims sovereignty and demarcate its spatialboundaries. They materialize the far edges of the State ’ s monopoly on the legitimate use of force. They are thus limits that need to be defended and simultaneously contact pointsbetween states and their respective citizens.On the one hand, borders are the outer limits to the spatial scope of State ’ s power and,as such, strategic lines that need to be defended against unwanted intrusions. From a his-torical perspective, States formation resulted from the successful waging of wars. It meantthat new territories were integrated and powers centralized (Tilly  1992). Therefore,borders created States as much as States created borders (Anderson 1996). On thatbasis, the management of borders — and their much-discussed degree of permeability  — © 2019 Association for Borderlands Studies CONTACT  Martin Deleixhe Fixed-term Associate Professor and PostdoctoralResearcher, Centre de recherche en sciences politiques (CReSPo), Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles, Bld du Jardin Botanique43, 1000, Bruxelles, BelgiumThis article has been republished with minor changes. These changes do not impact the academic content of the article. JOURNAL OF BORDERLANDS STUDIES2019, VOL. 34, NO. 5, 639 – 647  is usually framed as a security issue. For borders were srcinally thought of as defensivemilitary lines that needed to be carefully manned and fortified to deter neighboring States from invading the country. Borders were potential front lines that needed tostand prepared to the ever-present possibility of large-scale aggression. However,despite some exceptions such as Kosovo or South Sudan, the times of widespread Statesformation are long gone. Currently, military conquest of territories is judged illegitimateand deemed unjustifiable by virtually all political and ethical traditions (Buchanan andMoore 2003). In our post-Cold War world, most international actors indeed recognizeand respectfully observe the territorial integrity norm (Zacher 2002). The norm isenshrined in the United Nations Charter (Art.2, Para 4) and forbids States to contestthe territorial integrity of other States. In other words, irredentism, though still athorny issue in a few parts of the world, no longer figures very high on the internationalpolitical agenda and full-scale military invasions rarely occur, even though they remain apossibility as shown by developments in Crimea in 2014.The association between borders and defensive lines appears to be receding but it doesnot mean that the constitutive role of borders in international politics belongs to a past era.Borders ’  institutional functions and purposes might be shifting but borders remain highly charged markers. Borders are not mere geographical lines on a map; they are symbolic dis-tinctions that crucially set apart a collective self from others (Sibley  1995).On the other hand, borders are contact points between neighboring political powersand societies. Borders are constructed socio-political institutions that cut across land-scapes, cultures, and peoples. However, there never is a perfect match between territorialand functional lines of any given country (Albert 1998). In other words, no matter how they are drawn, borders do not neatly coincide with one people, one culture, oneeconomy, and one set of political institutions on a single territory. For, each of thesesocial dimensions responds to different imperatives and will expand spatially according to its own dynamic and therefore set distinct territorial boundaries. Consequently, theareas surrounding borders are nothing like their representations on political maps,swiftly shifting from a uniform color to another one on each side of a paper-thin line.Instead, they are made of local economic interests spanning across borders, transnationalethnic communities seemingly ignoring the border that divides them politically or culturalinfluences moving seamlessly from one country to the next (Faist 2004).From that viewpoint, borders are messy meeting points rather than neat divisions. Cul-tural identities, economic interests, and political allegiances are best described in the areassurrounding borders as overlapping folds (Balibar 2009) or even entangled networks.Though the presence and impact of the border is undeniable and oftentimes drives thesocial and political interactions in the territories adjacent to it, the border should not becharacterized as a watertight distinction that separates two self-contained social and pol-itical worlds.Borders are both a door and a bridge. Because they are operating at a critical juncturebetween security expectations and intense cross-border exchanges, they appear to beJanus-faced. To some, they are demarcating lines that call for extensive protection anda regime of strict closure. To others, they are a gateway to transnational opportunitiesand their opening should be carefully but liberally managed.  The very same paradox affects the regions located alongside borders , that is the borderlands or frontier zones. 640 M. DELEIXHE ET AL.  Borderlands were srcinally described as areas burdened by their geographical andinstitutional distance from central powers. It was assumed that their  “ double peripheral-ity  ”— added to the insecurity of being directly exposed to the threats lying beyond theborders — would negatively affect them and hamper their political and economic develop-ment (House 1980). Ironically, their very remoteness has turned a number of them intolands of opportunities and renewed social, economic and cultural activism today. Be itin the Cascadian regions between Vancouver and Seattle, in the Benelux or at theborder between Romania and Moldova, active social and economic environments spanacross political boundaries and transnational exchanges are numerous. Such borderlandsare the cradle of sustained transnational interactions that often confer them a unique cul-tural and political status (Anderson and O ’ Dowd 1999), allow for the cultural hybridiz-ation of identities (Papastergiadis 2000; Anzaldua 1999), the development of thriving  regional economies (Anderson and Waever 2003) or challenge traditional political alle-giances (see respectively Liebich and Danero Iglesias in this issue).This rosy picture of growing exchange, mutual benefits, and hybridization has beenovershadowed recently by the risks associated with unchecked cross-border flows andpotentially clandestine and illegal activities (Andreas and Snyder 2000). Because of theirremoteness and opening to the outside, borderlands are seen as a harbor for all kindsof illegal and potentially dangerous activities — be it smuggling, human trafficking or inter-national terrorism — and as such singled out for increased scrutiny and monitoring (Prattand Brown 2000). To sum up, just as borders can be characterized both as a door and abridge between countries, borderlands can be simultaneously depicted as epitomizing the growth of mutually beneficial transnational ties  and   as offering a privileged butbleak glimpse into the importation of international threats into domestic politics. The selective re-bordering of states and the securitization of borderlands An additional development has further heightened the paradoxical nature of borders andborderlands over the last decades and greatly impacted their evolutions. Borders and bor-derlands have recently attracted a lot of scholarly attention, and deservedly so. Contrarily to what some have argued (Friedman 2005), technology and free trade have not turnedcustoms, culture and inequality barriers into relics of the past. In a world that stubbornly refuses to become flat, borders have not only proved their relevance but they have alsodefied most attempts to predict and anticipate their institutional evolutions (Rumford2006). Globalization may have increased interdependence between countries andblurred some cultural or social boundaries but it has not changed the world ’ s political frag-mentation. In spite of grand prophecies made in the 1990s (Ohmae 1990), the world hasbecome neither a village, nor borderless. Societies have been shaken to their core by theexponential growth of transnational trade of all kinds — be it goods, capital, ideas, orpersons. Social worlds are now organized around flows rather than places (Urry  1999)and they increasingly adopt the features of a network (Castells 2000). Still, territorial enti-ties — States — remain the key political units shaping international relations. Current trendsmay alter the role of spaces and territories and even downplay their political importance,they do not render them meaningless.Now, borders are unparalleled political tools when it comes to asserting a sovereignmonopoly over a territory. In the turmoil of a changing world, States have shown that, JOURNAL OF BORDERLANDS STUDIES 641  far from giving up their borders, they were more than ever at pains to demarcate themclearly (Foucher 2007). States are often threatened by a large devolution of their preroga-tives to supra- and infra-national actors and by the obligation to subject themselves to anincreased cooperation with private actors. Despite this waning of their sovereignty  — orperhaps because of it — States appear to be ever more inclined to build physical walls attheir borders (Brown 2010). Such walls seem utterly inefficient but, in the eye of some pol-icymakers, they restore spectacularly a semblance of control over transnational flows.Moreover, divisive walls are not only propping up at the physical location of borders,they have also become endemic in discourses. As it has been aptly shown by Newman(2006), border studies cannot restrict themselves to scrutinizing borders as a physical,spatial or cartographic object. They also have to take into account that borders areshaped by the dynamic processes of evolving social relations. The interplay of thosesocial relations can either tilt towards an incremental vanishing of the borders, ortowards their social reinforcement and political institutionalization (Newman and Paasi1998). Indeed, borders have traditionally provided the State and its elites with a symbolicideological marker for the construction of political identity and social communities (Paasi1996; Newman 2003). Lately the emphasis has been put on the exclusive dimension of this marker. States resort to the process of singling out an  “ other ”  with the sole purpose of defining themselves by contrast. The discriminating process of   “ othering  ”  has the twinadvantages of creating a shared sentiment of belonging while restoring a feeling of order (Van Houtum and van Naerssen 2002). The process of bordering thereforeappears inextricably entangled with — and must be thought alongside — the integrationof political communities (Delmotte and Duez 2016).Thus,  pace  the mainstream discourse on globalization, borders keep closing, including in the very same European Union that had hoped to abolish them (Bigo and Guild 2005;Huysmans 2006). They disrupt migration flows, restrict transnational exchanges, andshatter life plans. As fragmentation lines of our political space, they remain one of thekey factors of inequality and exclusion. But Westphalian reality is partially deceiving.As Andreas (2003) pointed out, borders are neither impermeable nor vanishing; they are rather being recrafted to fulfill new purposes. The impact of globalization withregards to borders and borderlands must be nuanced. Instead of acting as military barriersthat indiscriminately stop all flows, borders in a globalized world are expected to be “ smart, ”  that is to selectively police certain transnational flows while allowing others tomove along uninterrupted. In other words, globalization did not abolish borders but ledto a sophisticated process of de-bordering and re-bordering (Sassen 2005).Against a simplistic open/close dichotomy, most borders went through a transforma-tive process that turned them into a discriminatory instrument tasked mainly with theduty to sort out populations on the move (Delanty  2006). In an interconnected worldin which domestic issues gradually become indistinguishable from global issues (Beck 2000), many States, under the pressure of public opinions that gave a favorable echo tonational populist discourses, singled out migrants as the main vector of instability andinsecurity (Bigo 2002; Huysmans 2006). According to the theoretical framework first designed by Buzan, Waever, and De Wilde (1998), no issue is  per se  a security issue.Rather, according to the so-called Copenhagen School, they are constructed as suchthrough a specific speech act. That is, some issues are selectively depicted as posing anexistential threat to a given community. Once construed as such, security experts and 642 M. DELEIXHE ET AL.
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