Building Fortress Europe

Building Fortress Europe: The Polish-Ukrainian Frontier

Karolina S. Follis
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Building Fortress Europe
    Book Description:

    What happens when a region accustomed to violent shifts in borders is subjected to a new, peaceful partitioning? Has the European Union spent the last decade creating a new Iron Curtain at its fringes? Building Fortress Europe: The Polish-Ukrainian Frontier examines these questions from the perspective of the EU's new eastern external boundary. Since the Schengen Agreement in 1985, European states have worked together to create a territory free of internal borders and with heavily policed external boundaries. In 2004 those boundaries shifted east as the EU expanded to include eight postsocialist countries-including Poland but excluding neighboring Ukraine. Through an analysis of their shared frontier, Building Fortress Europe provides an ethnographic examination of the human, social, and political consequences of developing a specialized, targeted, and legally advanced border regime in the enlarged EU. Based on fieldwork conducted with border guards, officials, and migrants shuttling between Poland and Ukraine as well as extensive archival research, Building Fortress Europe shows how people in the two countries are adjusting to living on opposite sides of a new divide. Anthropologist Karolina S. Follis argues that the policing of economic migrants and asylum seekers is caught between the contradictory imperatives of the European Union's border security, economic needs of member states, and their declared commitment to human rights. The ethnography explores the lives of migrants, and their patterns of mobility, as framed by these contradictions. It suggests that only a political effort to address these tensions will lead to the creation of fairer and more humane border policies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0660-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Chapter 1 Introduction: Rebordering Europe
    (pp. 1-25)

    The expansion of the European Union on May 1, 2004, to incorporate eight new member states in postsocialist Eastern Europe, and its second act of including an additional two in 2007, have been the latest in the centuries-long sequence of border shifts in Europe.¹ Contours of European maps have usually changed in the aftermath of wars. This time, however, the shift was peaceful, and the territorial outlines of the countries involved remained un-touched. Instead, their borders were refitted for a new purpose. Where the new members bordered on each other, or on old EU member states, frontiers became the open...

  4. Chapter 2 Civilizing the Postsocialist Frontier?
    (pp. 26-53)

    It was summer 2003 when I first arrived in the border area between Poland and Ukraine. In June that year, in a two-day accession referendum, Poles had voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining the European Union.¹ The country was gearing up to become an EU member state, and in Warsaw and other major cities “Europe” was the talk of the town. But I was interested in finding out what people thought of these developments in more peripheral locations, especially in the neglected and impoverished eastern borderland that was to become the external boundary of the expanded EU—a place where...

  5. Chapter 3 I’m Not Really Here: The Time-Space of Itinerant Lives
    (pp. 54-87)

    The images of the “creeping borderland” and a “peaceful invasion” moving in the direction from east to west were an essayist’s attempt to capture the 1990s experience of the crumbling of the national homogeneity that had characterized life in Poland in the five postwar decades. The focal points that initially attracted the flow of foreigners, and from which in turn many ventured into the society at large, were the vast and unregulated marketplaces that provided the postsocialist population with access to all sorts of goods, at a time shortly after the removal of trade barriers and before the establishment of...

  6. Chapter 4 Seeing like a Border Guard: Strategies of Surveillance
    (pp. 88-116)

    The abandoned watchtowers and empty checkpoint booths, such as those that line the Franco-German or Dutch-Belgian borders, have become symbols of European integration and freedom of movement in the post-Schengen era. Could the once barbed-wired borders of postsocialist countries soon look the same? In 2005, one year after Poland had been formally accepted as an EU member, its western and southern borders seemed to be losing the ominous feel of rigid international divides. Fewer guards on duty and no customs officers signaled a new organization of space in a region once located east of the iron curtain. Meanwhile, the opposite...

  7. Chapter 5 Economic Migrants Beyond Demand: Asylum and the Politics of Classification
    (pp. 117-141)

    Although the border guards at Poland’s eastern border stand prepared for every conceivable attempt to breach the boundary without authorization, and millions of euros have been poured into that preparedness, it merits emphasizing that the sheer fact of Poland’s entry into the EU did not result in any sharp increase in the number of migrants coming into the country.¹ As previously noted, since 2000 this has oscillated between 300,000 and 500,000, depending on who is counting and how (see, for example, IOM 2004; Fundacja Inicjatyw Społeczno Ekonomicznych 2008). But, as I began to demonstrate in the previous chapters, what did...

  8. Chapter 6 Capacity Building and Other Technicalities: Ukraine as a Buffer Zone
    (pp. 142-170)

    The Common European Asylum System the European Union has been developing, to spread the burden of receiving asylum seekers, to increase the efficiency of national asylum infrastructures, and to clear them of “bogus asylum seekers,” is a prime example of how rebordering engages people, places, and institutions across national and EU territories. But it is far from the only element of the border regime that instantiates these tendencies. The creation of a secure, prosperous, and bounded space within the European Union demands extensive cooperation and technological coordination between governments and law enforcement agencies of the EU member states. This chapter...

  9. Chapter 7 The Border as Intertext: Memory, Belonging, and the Search for a New Narrative
    (pp. 171-203)

    The previous chapters examined the constitutive elements of the new European border regime and the larger technocratic process of rebordering. However, there is more to rebordering, and to researching the field, than has been indicated so far. As anthropologists and other social scientists have highlighted on many occasions, field research generates both objective and subjective ways of knowing the world, where the borders of personal experience, research experience, and subjects’ understandings do not separate into neat categories or conceptual limits, but instead produce and emphasize a messier, deeper, perhaps richer, set of insights (see for example Geertz 1998; Bell and...

  10. Chapter 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 204-212)

    I opened this text with the juxtaposition of the unstable situation of one circle of mostly female Ukrainian migrant workers in Warsaw, and one expert account of the efficacies of border policing on the Polish-Ukrainian border achieved in the context of EU expansion in 2004. I argued that in Poland, the new European border regime substitutes expansive and technically advanced forms of border control for explicit policies regulating immigration and other forms of movement across its frontiers. In doing so, it merges and conflates vital matters of human mobility, legality, and territoriality. Throughout the preceding chapters, I have highlighted some...

  11. Appendix: Methods
    (pp. 213-216)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 217-250)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-274)
  14. Index
    (pp. 275-280)
  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 281-284)