Contesting Schengen – Border Zones and Cross-Border Cooperation during and after the European “migration crisis”

Authors: Birgit Glorius*, TU Chemnitz
Topics: Social Geography, Political Geography, Regional Geography
Keywords: borders, migration, security, European integration, regional development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8226, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Borders and their meanings have always undergone changes throughout history. In the course of the European integration process, borders have become more invisible, more permeable and less separating in the past decades. With the European “migration crisis” of 2014/15 unfolding, an unprecedented change in these perceptions and experiences has occurred. Suddenly, borders are visible again through physical features and material practices, and the idea of a joint EU border policy is collapsing into a patchwork of divergent national strategies. In the wake of tightening border control and securitization measures, the roles and functions of borderlands in the Schengen area are both challenged and changed, turning the former “zones of contact” increasingly into “lines of separation”, with manifold implications concerning governance practices, identity processes and economic welfare in the border regions.
This paper presents a case study on the Austrian-Bavarian Schengen border, where border controls have been reintroduced since fall 2015. The research was carried out in early 2018 and consists of expert interviews, participant observation, media analyses and auto-ethnography. The results reveal how the enforced border controls are perceived by the regions’ inhabitants and framed by local, regional and national discourses. From the inhabitants’ perspective, bordering practices are perceived as supra-national policy with practical consequences for their daily way of life. Bordering policies, practices and discourses have shifted from migration control to security and identity issues. The results suggest consequences for theory building in the field of border studies, notably regarding the question of scale and border hierarchies.

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