Ways of Seeing (the Border)

Panel Code

Borders are central to contemporary politics. They are the defining institution of the nation-state; they are also sites of violence, repression and vast abuses of human rights. Increasingly, they are of interest to scholars in fields across the humanities and social sciences. Yet despite a rise of critical scholarship they remain poorly understood, too frequently simplified as lines on a map. In fact, borders vary greatly in form and function: some borders are hard to cross, others are easy; some correspond to natural boundaries others do not; some are militarized (or securitized). What significance do these axes of variation have, and what do they teach us about our changing world? This panel draws together scholars in a range of fields to engage in a conceptual discussion: what is a border, and how should we go about studying it? Following Berger’s masterful Ways of Seeing, the panel attempts to think critically about the act of seeing the border. In addition to presenting aspects of their own research, the different participants will be asked to contribute insight into this important question. Obviously, how we go about seeing the border implicates what we notice and how we interpret what we find.