Invisible Borders in a Very Bordered World IV: Historical and Transnational Perspectives

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Political Geography Specialty Group, Cultural Geography Specialty Group, Historical Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM (MDT)
Room: Studio 6, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Joshua Hagen, Alexander Diener
Chairs: Joshua Hagen


We are accustomed to visualizing the world as a mosaic of sovereign states, each possessing its own clearly defined territory. Standard political maps of the world help establish, reinforce, and reify this worldview – literally a view of the world – and its taken-for-granted spatial organization. This neat and tidy worldview obviously obscures a great deal of complexity and messiness, both geographical and otherwise. Despite that, this ‘territorial trap’ (Agnew, 1994) continues to exert a powerful hold as a normative framework guiding statecraft, international relations, and popular perceptions of the world and our proper place within it.

In recent decades, scholars have complicated that normative framework by highlighting the apparent proliferation of alternative spaces within, across, and between state borders. The significance of this proliferation, nevertheless, remains unclear. These irregular spaces could be harbingers of new processes and perspectives of bordering. Alternatively, these apparently subversive political geographies might ultimately serve to reinforce and reify conventional norms, behaviors, and mentalities. It may also be the case that these novel borderings are not novel at all; they have been with us all along but merely obscured by the territorial trap.

This session(s) seeks contributions that contextualize, investigate, and illuminate the afore-noted possibilities. Contributions could encompass a wide range of contemporary and historical cases, as well as theories and methodologies, including but not limited to:

• De facto states (e.g. Transnistria or Somaliland).
• Spaces of irredentism and secessionism (e.g. Russian annexation of Crimea or Moroccan control of Western Sahara).
• Unrecognized and ambiguous territories (e.g. South China Sea or Antarctica).
• Gated communities (e.g. wealthy enclaves in developed countries or expatriate retirement communities in Central America and the Caribbean).
• Spaces of ethnic inclusion and segregation (e.g. immigrant neighborhoods or gang territories).
• Novel borderings of commerce and exchange (e.g. foreign trade zones or export processing zones).
• Places of transit and detention (e.g. immigrant processing centers or sites of extra-jurisdictional detention).
• Spaces of indigeneity (e.g. tribal reservations or sanctuaries for uncontacted peoples).
• Micronations (e.g. Freetown Christiania or Principality of Sealand).
• Fractured states (e.g. Libya or Syria).

Despite being ‘invisible’ on most maps, these borders and the spaces they delineate have a very real, material, and tangible presence and consequences for those people who live within, alongside, and across them.

Potential contributors should submit an abstract of approximately 250 words or inquiries regarding the session(s) to by October 20, 2017.


Josh and Alex


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter David Glovsky*, Michigan State University, “It’s all one place”: Geographic networks in a West African borderland since independence 20 3:20 PM
Presenter James Baker*, University of Nebraska Omaha, Fields of Play, Borders at Work? Tracing Separatism and Cosmopolitanism on the Soccer Pitch 20 3:40 PM
Presenter Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary*, Grenoble-Alpes University, France, Myriam Houssay-Holzschuch*, Université Grenoble Alpes, Detours: Experimenting at the borders of the former South African homelands 20 4:00 PM
Presenter Juan-Manuel Trillo-Santamaría*, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Valerià Paül, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Eduard Rovira, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Digital Cartography Mismatches in the Southern Cone Boundaries: A Matter of Geopolitics or a Mere Technical Issue? 20 4:20 PM
Presenter Alexander Diener*, University of Kansas, Border Control as a Technology of Social Control 20 4:40 PM

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