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Border Encounters

Border Encounters: Asymmetry and Proximity at Europe's Frontiers

Jutta Lauth Bacas
William Kavanagh
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 302
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  • Book Info
    Border Encounters
    Book Description:

    Among the tremendous changes affecting Europe in recent decades, those concerning political frontiers have been some of the most significant. International borders are being opened in some regions while being redefined or reinforced in others. The social relationships of those living in these borderland regions are also changing fundamentally. This volume investigates, from a local, ground-up perspective, what is happening at some of these border encounters: face-to-face interactions and relations of compliance and confrontation, where people are bargaining, exchanging goods and information, and maneuvering beyond state boundaries. Anthropological case studies from a number of European borderlands shed light on the questions of how, and to what extent, the border context influences the changing interactions and social relationships between people at a political frontier.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-138-9
    Subjects: Anthropology, Political Science, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction Border Encounters: Asymmetry and Proximity at Europe’s Frontiers
    (pp. 1-22)
    Jutta Lauth Bacas and William Kavanagh

    Europe has experienced tremendous changes over the past two decades, and some of the most significant are those affecting its borders. The era of political and socio-economic transformation after 1989 reconfigured the European landscape to an extent not seen since the Second World War. The dissolution of the Soviet Union, the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the enlargement of the European Union – particularly the accession of twelve countries to the European Union (EU) in 2004 and a further two in 2007 – entailed complex processes affecting many state borders. Borders that had been closed were opened (the fall of the Berlin Wall...

  5. Part I. Opening Borders

    • Chapter 1 Consumer Rites: The Politics of Consumption in Re-unified Germany
      (pp. 25-45)
      Daphne Berdahl

      A year after the Berlin Wall fell, residents of a former East German border village were treated to a sort of collective initiation ceremony into West German society. One of many such encounters between East and West in the early days of German re-unification,¹ this particular meeting entailed a ‘product promotion show’ (Werbeveranstaltung) sponsored by a West German health products company. For three hours, the 150 villagers assembled in the community hall learned about health, nutrition and the spirit of capitalism. According to a ‘renowned’ nutritional society, the company’s sales representative explained, one would have to drink over thirteen litres...

    • Chapter 2 Cross-Border Relations and Regional Identity on the Polish-German Border
      (pp. 46-67)
      Robert Parkin

      Poland’s entry into the European Union on 1 May 2004 represented the culmination of a long-term goal for the post-communist political class.¹ Coming after entry into NATO in 1999, EU accession consolidated Poland’s international status as a member of the Western military, diplomatic, commercial and political order. The largest and most populous of the 2004 accession states, it has already been making its presence felt in the new Europe, both diplomatically and in its export of hundreds of thousands of its citizens to seek work elsewhere in Europe.

      Such population movements may include long-term sojourns in Spain or the UK,...

    • Chapter 3 The Skeleton versus the Little Grey Men: Conflicting Cultures of Anti-nuclear Protest at the Czech-Austrian Border
      (pp. 68-89)
      Birgit Müller

      After the radioactive cloud from the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 had travelled over the whole of Europe, it was clear that the perception of danger and political treatment of risk were by no means the same from one European state to the next. The radioactive cloud seemed to have passed the states of ‘real existing socialism’ unnoticed to descend in force in Austria, where it provoked strong reactions among a population that had renounced the use of nuclear energy eight years before in a referendum against activating the reactors of Zwentendorf, the only nuclear power station ever built in...

    • Chapter 4 Powerful Documents: Passports, Passages and Dilemmas of Identification on the Georgian-Turkish Border
      (pp. 90-107)
      Mathijs Pelkmans

      The collapse of the Soviet Union and the opening of the Iron Curtain between Georgia and Turkey produced a massive flow of cross-border movement. This movement, motivated in part by the dearth of consumer goods in Georgia, was further stimulated by the power vacuum that emerged upon the collapse of state structures. As with all vacuums, however, the void was quickly filled. The chaos of the early 1990s gave way to a more ordered configuration within a still largely toothless national legal and political framework. The central role of identity documents in transnational movement makes them a useful focal point...

    • Chapter 5 Proximity and Asymmetry on the Portuguese-Spanish Border
      (pp. 108-136)
      William Kavanagh

      The social sciences, or at least those that, like anthropology, are less concerned with always being ‘scientific’, will at times accept that certain things that may seem at first sight to be purely anecdotal and unimportant may yet be capable of revealing crucial aspects of social reality. I suggest that the following is such an example.

      The story has it that in preparation for a visit by the Spanish prime minister to a Lisbon school, the headmaster briefed the pupils to answer, when asked what Spain meant for the Portuguese, that ‘Spaniards are our friends’. ‘No, headmaster’, piped up one...

  6. Part II. Strengthening Borders

    • Chapter 6 Asymmetries of Gender and Generation in a Post-Soviet Borderland
      (pp. 139-164)
      Laura Assmuth

      It should be obvious that women and men experience borders differently in their daily lives. This is because women and men are differently positioned vis-à-vis the state’s routine management and maintenance of power. The associations of structure and belonging between the state and its gendered subjects have been relatively little theorized. As Wilson and Donnan (1998: 20) suggest, ‘the links between the border, sexuality, gender and the state are not relationships readily referred to by other scholars of the state, but are the kinds of association which anthropology’s twin focus on identity and locality is especially good at revealing’. As...

    • Chapter 7 ‘We Are All Tourists’: Enduring Social Relations at the Romanian-Serbian Border in Different Mobility Regimes
      (pp. 165-192)
      Cosmin Radu

      This chapter explores the implications national and supranational policies have for cross-border mobility. It illustrates relations between state central institutions and peripheral administrative units, between regional policies and local practices. In particular, it tries to show how mobility at the Romanian-Serbian border has been challenged by changes enacted in the border regime in the 1960s and 1970s, 1989 and 2004. The visas introduced in 2004 have temporarily stifled the hopes of people who previously circulated throughout the area, accustomed to a ‘border economy’ developed since the outset of socialism through cross-border seasonal labour and small-scale trading, various forms of smuggling,...

    • Chapter 8 ‘We Used to Be One Country’: Rural Transformations, Economic Asymmetries and National Identities in the Ukrainian-Russian Borderlands
      (pp. 193-212)
      Tatiana Zhurzhenko

      In 1991, the administrative boundary between the two Soviet republics Ukraine and Russia became an international border.¹ The process of border making (introduction of passport and customs controls, reorganization of transport routes, restructuring of labour markets) made the territory of the neighbouring state less accessible and more ‘distant’ for the population of the Ukrainian-Russian borderlands. As a consequence, people have learned to adjust their social networks, mobility routes and shopping and leisure habits to the new situation and take the fact of the border into account in their labour market and education strategies. At the same time, the new situation...

  7. Part III. Crossing Forbidden Borders

    • Chapter 9 Under One Roof: The Changing Social Geography of the Border in Cyprus
      (pp. 215-231)
      Lisa Dikomitis

      The Green Line, as the partition line on Cyprus is called, is a de facto ‘border’ – a controversial term in the Cypriot context. It is a militarized border that runs 180 km across the island, cutting right through the heart of the capital, Nicosia. It consists of a variety of formal and informal barricades, manned by United Nations peacekeepers and always bearing the omnipresent ‘forbidden zone’ sign. Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion of 1974, which followed a brief Greek Cypriot coup orchestrated by the then military Greek regime. Greek Cypriots living in the north had to flee...

    • Chapter 10 The Birth of a Border: Policing by Charity on the Italian Maritime Edge
      (pp. 232-254)
      Maurizio Albahari

      ‘Our hope is that our land of Apulia,² thegate of the Orient,and for centuries agate of civilization and culture,becomes agate of legality,but most importantly, agate of charity’ (Ruppi 2002: 14; original emphasis). This statement by an influential Catholic³ archbishop synthetically indexes the intersection of moral geographies, religious charity and sovereignty distinctively emerging in the Italian governance of borders and migration.⁴ The pages below trace the foundational phases of Italy’s border enforcement vis-à-vis the earliest instances of mass maritime migration in contemporary Europe.⁵ To do this, they sketch the discordant activities of two key...

    • Chapter 11 Managing Proximity and Asymmetry in Border Encounters: The Reception of Undocumented Migrants on a Greek Border Island
      (pp. 255-280)
      Jutta Lauth Bacas

      On a beautiful summer day in 2007, a local newspaper on the Greek border island of Lesbos published the following item: ‘Ten foreigners (three men, three women and four children) were detected on Petalidi beach on Lesbos by coastguard officers at 5:45 A.M.’¹ Those foreigners were boat migrants whose inflatable dinghy washed up on the remote Greek beach from the opposite Turkish shores. The arrival of undocumented migrants on Lesbos was not only daily news in the local newspaper; it was also, in a nutshell, a border encounter entailing all the topics tackled in the present essay: migration movements, cross-border...

  8. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 281-283)
  9. Index
    (pp. 284-292)