Divine Antecedents to Contemporary Borders

Authors: Kenneth Madsen*, The Ohio State University
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Religion, Historical Geography
Keywords: borders, bordering, border barriers (wall/fences), religion
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:15 PM
Room: Capitol, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Terrace Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Despite the secular nature of many contemporary governments, God and country are frequently intertwined in the popular consciousness. This paper looks at the specific ways in which borders are sometimes justified and defended in contemporary politics with the passion and even rhetoric of religious fervor. The focus is on justification for construction of border barriers in the neoliberal era and among populist political figures. The paper also considers how religious history informs our current understandings on this topic. The ancient Roman god of boundaries – Terminus – reflected the importance of providing heavenly protection for private property, and by extension the limits of Rome and the Roman Empire. But the Old Testament and Proto-Indo-European religious practices, among others, demonstrate that the roots of divine intersection with borders and bordering processes go much farther back in time.

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