Borders in Flux and Border Temporalities in and Beyond Europe

Borders in Flux and Border Temporalities in and Beyond Europe

Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digitial History, University of Luxembourg; Tranfrontier Euro Institute Network; UniGR-Center for Border Studies and Borders in Globalization, University of Victoria, Canada
Vom - Bis
15.12.2022 - 16.12.2022
Johanna Jaschik, C2DH, Universität Luxemburg

In the field of border studies, research has primarily focused on spatial aspects. However, this conference aimed to explore the temporal dimension in border research, specifically in 19th- and 20th-century Europe and beyond. The conference included four panels that discussed topics such as mobility at state borders, the impact of past borders on the present, and methodological and conceptual considerations of border temporalities.

Presentations in the first panel discussed the multiple temporal dimensions of geopolitical borders in Europe and how shifts and changes in national borders affect those who live near or interact with them. With a focus on the Western Balkans, the first keynote speaker, CAROLIN LEUTLOFF-GRANDITS (Frankfurt/Oder), explained how migration flows at the EU external border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia affect the perception of time of both migrants attempting to cross the border and local inhabitants witnessing this mobility. On the one side, migrants who are physically stopped at the border perceive time in a liminal state, which means time does not move in a linear fashion but rather cyclically. They can experience time in the sense of being stuck in a loop or as an existential mobility, by making use of their time at the border to pursue their education. On the other side, Leutloff-Grandits also observed how some local inhabitants feel personally affected by the mobility of migrants at the national border in terms of feeling immobile or stuck.

The keynote was followed by three presentations discussing border temporalities in connection with mobility at national borders in Europe. LIDIA KUZEMSKA (Berlin) emphasised the temporal dimension of borders by focusing on the geopolitical shifts of Ukraine’s national borders in the last decade. She demonstrated how Ukrainian inhabitants who have been affected by shifting (state) borders in the past and by the current Russian war adapt to the temporal fragility of (state) borders despite the rapidly changing political and socioeconomic circumstances and security regulations. They do this by both creating new transregional cross-border routes that allow them to leave and re-enter Ukrainian territory and maintaining cross-border social networks through „safe corridors“ and „contact zones“.

MAFALDA CARAPETO (Lisbon) investigated the micro-temporalities experienced by foreign travellers at border checkpoints at the international airport in Lisbon, Portugal. These temporalities materialise in situations that are established and determined by external factors, such as moments in which the linearity of time is slowed down, for example when foreign travelers must wait in line to be checked, or occasions when linear time is interrupted by the actions of border guards, who intentionally perform tedious and time-consuming inspections of travelers’ social documents and statuses.

Another European border case study that challenged a linear understanding of time was presented by LUCA DAMINELLI (Genoa) with his (and Marcella Cometti’s) paper on refugees stranded on the Greek island of Lesvos. Daminelli demonstrated how EU and national regulations and procedures influence refugees’ perception of time in Lesvos, turning the island into a „timeless“ space. Refugees experience time in various consecutive stages that all run at different speeds. First, time is slowed down when the refugees are stuck on the island, potentially entering a state of „existential limbo“. This is followed by a second stage occurring at the end of their asylum process, in which time is accelerated. Asylum seekers are either asked to leave the camp within 24 hours and move on to their next destination or they are granted a period of ten days to leave the country in the event of a rejection.

The conference hosted a poster session that displayed the research of three doctoral researchers. ALEXANDRA LAMPKE (Saarbrücken) presented her research on the energy sector in the Saar-Lor-Lux borderland, discussing the implications of the transitioning process to low-carbon energy in Germany, France, and Luxembourg. Lampke demonstrated how the reactor catastrophe in Japan in 2011 and the recent war in Ukraine have shaped (new) processes of negotiation and incentivised cross-border discourses in the border region about the shared energy future. ISIS LUXENBURGER (Saarbrücken) visualized her research on the transformation of borders in Northern Quebec’s wilderness. Centralising the Quebec, North Shore & Labrador Railway (QNS&L) that was built in the hunting territories of the Innu and Naskapi peoples in the 1950s, Luxenburger showed how this former colonial dividing line has transitioned into a postcolonial representation of indigenous resistance. VÉRONIQUE FABER (Luxembourg) presented her doctoral research on transnational popular culture in Luxembourg by exploring the role of the yearly fun fair „Schueberfouer“. Faber ’s poster demonstrated how the fun fair temporarily impacted social and spatial borders as well as cross-border cooperation and identification processes in Luxembourg’s border regions.

The second panel focused on various border-making processes, whether over a period of time, across different time periods or at a point in time. BENOÎT VAILLOT (Toulouse/Strasbourg) examined the changing French-German border regimes over time by focusing on the Alsace-Lorraine region in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Based on archival sources that offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of inhabitants at the French-German border, Vaillot demonstrated how people adapted to the changing border regime and thus maintained cross-border traffic, and how people were treated differently depending based on their status or gender. With a particular focus on the period of the closed border regime, Vaillot concluded that an increase in border controls was a unique border practice in 19th-century Europe that set the standard for subsequent national border policies in 20th-century Europe.

Again focusing on changing border regimes over time, ARPINE MANIERO (Munich) analysed how shifting political hegemonies in the borderlands between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the 19th and early 20th centuries led to geopolitical tensions which have continued until today. The South Caucasus has been subject to shifting geopolitical hegemonies in the past, turning this region into self-contained ethno-religious spaces marked by ethnic divisions amongst the population, where growing local needs compete against the changing infrastructure policies of political powers. Border policies implemented in the region under Soviet rule to handle national tensions only provided partial and short-term solutions, leaving discussions over natural resources like water, pastureland and forests unresolved, thereby creating a situation that stokes conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Considering changing border regimes at two different periods in time, OKSANA ERMOLEVA (Tromsø) presented a comparative analysis of border-making patterns between the early period of the Soviet-Finnish conflict in the 1920s and the most recent changes at the Russian-Finnish border in the early 2020s. Examining the impact of the establishment and tightening of border controls on local residents and cross-border travellers, Ermoleva concluded that while border controls, mobility infrastructures and border-crossing regulations have changed, human resourcefulness is still used to circumvent strict state regulations, including the use of forged medical documents for mass border crossings and the continued involvement of organised criminal groups in human trafficking and smuggling across the border.

SABINE BOLLIG and SELINA BEHNKE (Trier) highlighted border-making processes at a specific point in time by concentrating on the contemporary border regulations in the Saar-Lor-Lux region. Based on qualitative interviews conducted with cross-border commuting parents, Bollig and Behnke discussed how an increasing number of young children are commuting across the border daily to access early childhood education and care services in neighbouring countries, leading to diverse and flexible forms of cross-border childcare arrangements. Time and borders can be intertwined as divergent time regimes which overlap through border-crossing, as temporal structures of different work-care regimes, and as coherent or incoherent temporalities regarding the past, present, and future of childhood in borderlands.

The third panel discussed the temporal dimension of borders by exploring the role of the past at contemporary borders. The second keynote speaker ALENA PFOSER (Loughborough) started off this discussion by identifying memory as a key aspect in understanding border temporality: memory is a bordering device that naturalises and legitimises borders with material consequences. Pfoser’s keynote challenged the idea of time moving in a linear fashion and emphasised the role of the past in the present through memories. She discussed the importance of studying multiple, competing but intersecting scales of time and the need to examine the historical trajectories of border production. The study of memory in everyday borderwork is seen as an important area in the study of border temporalities, as it allows for a fuller understanding of the forces that constitute and contest borders and helps to account for the alignments and discrepancies of border temporalities.

DORTE JAGETIC ANDERSEN (Odense) presented a case study on Northern Ireland that demonstrated how Pfoser ’s understanding of memory and border temporality can be applied conceptually. In the contemporary landscape of Irish borderlands, memories of the past persist. Past conflicts like the Troubles and the Irish War of Independence influence everyday practices and are materialised in physical divisions such as walls, fences and other related symbolism. The past is kept alive through popular storytelling that emerges from collective memory entangled with personal experiences, and through a multiplicity of practices associated with them that continue to permeate the everyday lives of people in the borderland.

DAVID NEWMAN (Be’er Scheva) discussed the multidisciplinary nature of border studies and the challenges scholars face when they attempt to understand borders from a different academic linguistic perspective. Newman highlighted the temporal dimension of borders by demonstrating how geopolitical realities on the ground are constantly shifting over lengthy time spans. The Centennial Atlas was used as an example to show the changing borders of Europe and the Middle East from the year 1000 to the present day. Borders imposed in regions which previously had no borders were discussed, especially the way in which they take on a sense of perpetuity and fixed territorial order within a relatively short period of time. Conflict resolutions in these regions are based around existing geopolitical realities rather than those of past times, regardless of the reality and spatial circumstances that prevailed when the conflict started.

The presentation by PEDRO ALBUQUERQUE (Lisbon) of his paper written with Francisco José García Fernández discussed the heritage of bordering processes in the Portuguese-Spanish and BrazilianUruguayan/Argentinian borderlands. In these borderlands, shared spaces have emerged that are containers of common historical and cultural inheritance. These spaces highlight unique cultural features resulting from flows triggered by the separations created by states. These cultural features construct tangible and intangible heritage assets, such as fortresses and hybrid cultural manifestations, resulting in legal and illegal flows between communities from each side and leading to interconnections and the formation of multicultural societies that are still tangible today.

In the third keynote, EMMANUEL BRUNET-JAILLY (Victoria) spoke about conceptual considerations of how to combine migration, borders and temporality. Brunet-Jailly proposed two conceptual understandings of border temporality: first, borders are understood as boundary lines whose function can influence how time is perceived and lived. In the context of migration, borders are utilised as control mechanisms that can accelerate or slow down time for border crossers, thereby imposing temporality on individuals as well as disrupting their own personal temporalities. The second concept considers the temporality or life course of borders themselves. Not only do physical borders emerge, change and disappear; they also evolve as their functionalities shift. To illustrate the reality of changing borders, Brunet-Jailly presented BiG Dyads, a digital database created by the network Borders in Globalization, that provides useful information about the development of 771 terrestrial and maritime borders of the globe over time.

The last panel continued with a conceptual focus on border temporality. With her case study on residential migrants who move from Luxembourg to the German side of the river Moselle, ELISABETH BOESEN (Luxembourg) observed how the divergent economic and socio-cultural realities in the new place of residence impact individual identity processes and the conception and everyday construction of cross-border communities, from which a „temporal otherness“ emerges. But rather than focusing on national differences, notions of regional units and claims for convergence become apparent.

MICHAL FRANKL (Prague) discussed concepts of border temporality with a study on the strips of no-man’s land which appeared along the borders of East-Central Europe in 1938 as a result of large-scale expulsions of Jews and restrictive refugee policies. The no-man’s land was a consequence of the destabilisation of the borders of nation-states in the region and the shifting frontiers of citizenship. Based on testimonies and reports from contemporary observers, Frankl examined the following question: if the no-man’s land is an instance of spatial statelessness, can it also be considered as a temporal statelessness? Frankl observed that temporality was perceived by refugees in various states: as „suspended time“, as cyclical and time as a maze, and as time of the past.

The conference ended with a presentation by MACHTELD VENKEN (Luxembourg) that explored methodological considerations in analysing temporality in border research. In her (and Arnaud Sauer’s) article on migration to and between the two municipalities of Dudelange and Differdange in Luxembourg in the 1920s, Venken presented a digital method to analyse migration over time. Visualising large sets of arrival declaration forms containing spatiotemporal information revealed new insights into migration trajectories and settlement patterns. Consecutive processes of visualisation of migration trajectories in 1924 not only enabled a comparative and cumulative analysis of German and Italian migrants’ trajectories to Luxembourg; it also revealed temporal social networks during the migrants’ journeys.

The two days of the conference have emphasised the importance of temporality in border research but also pointed out that it requires further scholarly attention. Questioning the linearity of time revealed the persistence of historic memory in border communities, and the importance of the past in contemporary border conflicts, and shed light on the conditions of migrants attempting to cross national borders. Centralising time methodologically facilitated multiple approaches to border studies, such as longue durée, comparative and diachronic, which exposed the temporary, constructive, and fragile nature of (national) borders and their impact on individuals and groups interacting with these borders. But also exploring border temporality at the intersection of border research and digital methods (such as through data visualization) has led to novel outcomes that otherwise would have remained hidden.

Conference overview:

First Keynote

Carolin Leutloff-Grandits (European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder): Of being stuck or moving on: border temporalities along the EU's external border in the Western Balkans

Chair: Birte Wassenberg (University of Strasbourg and TEIN)

Panel 1: Borders and the Elasticity of Time

Chair: Birte Wassenberg (University of Strasbourg and TEIN)

Discussant: David Newman (Ben-Gurion University in the Negev in Israel)

Lidia Kuzemska (Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin): War Borders: Spatial and Temporal Impact of the Shifting Border between Ukraine and its Russia-Occupied Territories

Mafalda Carapeto (University of Lisbon): Portuguese Border and it’s ‘micro-temporalities’: advances, retreats, and hesitations in the exercise of control.

Luca Daminelli (University of Genoa) (online): The timeless island. The impact of EU and national legislation and procedures on refugees’ temporalities in Lesvos

Poster Session of Doctoral Researchers

Alexandra Lampke (Saarland University, Saarbrücken / UniGR-Center for Border Studies): Energy Borderlands in Flux. The Example of the SaarLorLux Region

Isis Luxenburger (Saarland University, Saarbrücken / UniGR-Center for Border Studies): Borders in Northern Quebec’s “Wilderness”. From Colonial Dividing Lines to Postcolonial Links

Véronique Faber (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg): Fun Fairs in Border Areas – A National, Transregional and Transnational History of the “Schueberfouer”

Panel 2: Border-Making Processes: Changes over Time

Chair: Christoph Brüll (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg)

Discussant: Birte Wassenberg (University of Strasbourg and TEIN)

Benoît Vaillot (University of Toulouse / University of Strasbourg): Border Temporalities at the French-German Border (1871–1914). A Laboratory for Experimenting with Border Regimes

Arpine Maniero (Collegium Carolinum e.V., Research Institute for the History of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Munich): Borders and Border Spaces in the South Caucasus: From the Second Half of the 19th Century up to the 1920s

Oksana Ermolaeva (Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø) (online): (B)order-making, cross border transactions, and environment at the Russian-Finnish Border (early twentieth – early twenty first century)

Sabine Bollig (University of Trier) & Selina Behnke (University of Trier): (De)bordered Childhood Projects in flux. Borders, time, and the childcare arrangements of cross-border commuting parents

Second Keynote

Alena Pfoser (Loughborough University): Remembering as bordering: Using memory studies to understand border temporalities

Chair: Machteld Venken (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg)

Panel 3: Remembering as Bordering

Chair: Machteld Venken (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg)

Discussant: Alena Pfoser (Loughborough University)

Dorte Jagetic Andersen (Centre for Border Region Studies at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense) (online): Revisiting Ballybogoin – lines, traces and tidemarks in the Irish borderlands

David Newman (Ben-Gurion University in the Negev in Israel, Be’er Scheva): The Temporal Paradox of the Default Border

Pedro Albuquerque (University of Seville, Uniarq and Centre of Global Studies, Aberta University, Lisbon): Bordering Iberia, globalizing borders. Topics for the Enhancement of a Transnational Heritage

Third Keynote

Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly (University of Victoria, Canada, and Borders in Globalization): Migration, Borders and Temporality

Chair: Anne Thevenet (Transfrontier Euro-Institut Network, TEIN)

Panel 4: Approaches to Border Temporalities

Chair: Christian Wille (University of Luxembourg and UniGR-Center for Border Studies)

Discussant: Carolin Leutloff-Grandits (European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder)

Elisabeth Boesen (University of Luxembourg): Border crossing and “temporal otherness” in the Greater Region SaarLorLux. Residential migrants’ experiences of divergence

Michal Frankl (Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague): The Making of the No Man’s Land. Forced migration, border violence and spatial statelessness in East-Central Europe at the end of the 1930s

Machteld Venken (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg): Arrival Declaration Forms. A New Gateway for Mapping Migration to Luxembourg