Call for Papers-Call for Applications - Part 84

posted by usha on 2007/05/08 20:23

[ Call for Papers-Call for Applications ]

Living and Drawing Borders in the Contemporary Worlds. Borders, Frontiers and Limits: Shared spaces, disputed spaces.

Every era and society engender specific border-systems through which gets expressed a conception of territorial integrity of a group as well as its projected relation with the Others, be they neighbors, enemies or merely different.

Spatial Branding:
We can consider that our epoch stands out by its production of border dispositions of which the most modern combine sophisticated surveillance and control devises, physical barriers, walls and closed enclosures, aiming all to produce an absolutely impervious separation. Through the US example whose administration is thinking today of building a 1,200 km wall along the Mexican border, the example of the Spanish enclaves in Morocco (Ceuta and Melilla) that are surrounded by barbed wire and are, today, totally cut-off from their Moroccan neighbors, or finally the example of Israel who is materializing its borders with the Palestinian territories through the construction of a wall and barriers, modern borders are turning into edifices increasingly efficient in embodying the fantasy of imperviousness. These border systems are not, moreover, the only components of problem-driven and conflict-ridden national borders. The work of American and South-African sociologists on metropolitan residential spaces, describe surveillance and defense processes quite similar to earlier works (Mike Davis, City of Quartz). After the fall of the Berlin Wall, some didn’t hesitate to forecast the end of borders and the general opening of the world. We can argue today that, on the contrary, the Berlin Wall constituted a foretelling and an anticipation of a border-system bound to become commonplace and be reproduced as a model that has been separated from the political regime where it was bred.

The symbolic weight of this spatial branding and the imaginary impact of this radical cut have to do with the fact that these border-systems don’t merely separate ensembles based on national principles. They pretend, more fundamentally, to mark a separation between civilizational principles held as disjointed and antagonistic. These impervious borders aim at being “fronts,” to use the opposition proposed during his time by M. Foucher (Fronts et Frontières: Un tour du monde géopolitique,Fayard, Paris, 1988); meaning, points of contact and tension between programs of competing civilizations. Modern borders display the ambition of being the front line of confrontation between, for instance, Islam and Christianity, religious society and secular society, poverty and wealth, an industrial North and a mercantile South. Modernity seems, then, to characterize these borders by their ability to signify, similarly to Hadrian’s Wall in his time, being the frontier and the limit to the order of civilization and the frames of the normal. We can argue, therefore, that thus appears the tendency of certain States to think and to represent themselves on an imperial mode, if we agree with the historians that border-wall is well a material and symbolic feature of the political form of empires. These civilizational bastions, genuine tools of a cloister ideology, are certainly not the only contemporary figures of borders, and their evocation doesn’t aim at ending discussion and debate on these themes. On the contrary, it aims at opening the horizon in order to call for a re-placing of all the thinking and descriptions of the architectures and the contemporary material border systems within the frame of a comparative historical anthropology.

But the syndrome of the wall is far from characterizing alone the complexity of modern borders and their border spaces. A variety of works (Peraldi M (dir, 2001) Cabas et Containers: Activités marchandes informelles et réseaux migrants transfrontalier, Maisonneuve et Larose, Paris. Santibanez J, Castillo M A, (2000) Migracion y fronteras, COLEF, Mexico. Bennafla K (2002), Le commerce frontalier en Afrique centrale. Acteurs, espaces, pratiques. Paris, Khartala) demonstrate economic as well as social roles of the border quite different from its political function. Paradoxically, it seems that while they separate and divide politically, modern borders bring closer and combine. This has been witnessed in Africa, in Central America or in Europe that these very same imperial border spaces are also zones of intense exchange and passage. On each side of the wall, the border spaces constitute events of the empire where commerce, traffic and high-intensity circulation take place. On the American-Mexican border was formed a continuous metropolitan space (San Diego-Tijuana) that the border crosses more than separates into two distinct cities. This principle of urban continuity can well be produced at the doors of the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Meilla in Morocco despite the imperviousness of the border systems put in place. The border deferential, as brutal as can be, still makes economic and social sense. The border markets are booming, sometimes between States that are in a state of war, entire populations are pushed to the peripheries-borders due to precarious living conditions, give free vain to multiple forms of contraband which is far from being inventoried exhaustively. Finally, the most modern form is perhaps that the border differential becomes itself an economic resource. Today indeed, it is entire sectors of the industry that have relocated towards borders. Industrial delocalization of American firms towards free Mexican zones, and the most recent delocalization of the Europeans towards free Moroccan or Tunisian zones, Rumanian or Polish zones are a major factor in the development of certain border regions.

It turns out to be that with this border-economy are put in place collaborations, cultural and social exchanges, the majority of which occur under the sign of informality, ingenuity if not utterly the clandestine. On their side, the work of ethnologists also illustrates social and cultural exchanges that are equally intense: that is the example in the Balkans and in Cisjordanie, where the matrimonial exchanges on each side are very common; marriage being, among others, a form of crossing of the border.

Be them testimonies and reproduction of old social continuities, be them, on the contrary, formations of new solidarities, the paradox of modern borders is also to see in them the birth, the existence and the perpetuations of border societies, founded not solely on the utility of economic exchanges but also on systems of ties and solidarity. And yet another statement, most of these modern border societies possess with no contest, an ambiguous status within the national ensembles where they are located, between a tolerance pushed to the useful margins, and symbolic, stigmatizing violence.

These introductory remarks aim at determining the intellectual horizon that we hope to give to the colloquium on the theme “Producing Borders and Frontier Societies”. The intention, on the one hand, is to gather works and on-going research projects on political borders and their production in the contemporary societies that describe social lives and their practices (passages as well as transgressions) that these spaces generate and organize. Finally, building on this anthropology of border-spaces in order to engage a thinking about the symbolic meaning of the front that our modernity seems to carry. Analysis and descriptions of border societies and worlds remain largely to do, even if they have been initiated in African and South American fields notably. One of the aims of this colloquium is to give echo and a greater visibility to empirical works. The intention also is to find grounding in this body of work in order to confront approaches and ways of questioning that are usually held separate. For the known specialists of the border question, political scientists, geographers and historians, we hope then to join the works of those who have somewhat arrived to the border empirically by the objects themselves. That of the Sociology of Work of which the analysis of the Mexican “maquiladoras” and the industrial delocalisation are pioneer; that of the Socio-Anthropology of exchange, commerce and transnational circulations between Europe and the Maghreb; and that of Social Geography that explicitly tracks the complexity of divided and shared territories that are at the heart of certain regions of the world where war, civil at times, is chronic. And finally that of Ethnography of border-societies and their cultural and social particularities.

This international and interdisciplinary colloquium will take place in Tangiers at the end of 2007 in collaboration with Tangiers-Tétouan University, the Tangiers Cinematheque and the French Institute of the Northern Region. It will be organized in three parallel workshops:

  • Border Systems: Fronts, walls, barriers;
  • Crossing the borders: Passage, transgression, the clandestine, underground economies;
  • The symbolic and social make-up of borders: Perceptions, rituals, imaginary processes of differentiation.

Initiated by the Center Jacques Berque, this colloquium has been prepared by a scientific committee formed by:
Karine Bennafla, IEP, GREMMO, Lyon.
Raymond Jamous, LESC, CNRS, Nanterre
Michel Peraldi, CJB, Rabat
Gilles de Rapper, IDEMEC, MMSH, Aix en Provence
Cédric Parizot, IREMAM, MMSH, Aix en Provence
And other institutions and researchers will further complete it.

The researchers aiming at contributing to this colloquium have to send a proposal including a title, a synopsis, a short CV not exceeding one page either in French, English or Spanish that will be the three languages of the colloquium. The integral papers have to imperatively reach the Center Jacques Berque via electronic mail to the following address: prior to the 15th of May, 2007.

The researchers hoping to participate to this colloquium without presenting a paper are equally invited to send their request to the same address.



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