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Temporality and the crossing of borders in Europe

Migrating borders and moving times explores how crossing borders entails shifting time as well as changing geographical location. Space has long dominated the field of border studies, a prominence which the recent ‘spatial turn’ in social science has reinforced. This book challenges the classic analytical pre-eminence of ‘space’ by focusing on how ‘border time’ is shaped by, shapes and constitutes the borders themselves.

Using original field data from Israel, northern Europe and Europe's south-eastern borders (Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Sarajevo, Lesbos), our contributors explore ‘everyday forms of border temporality’ – the ways in which people through their temporal practices manage, shape, represent and constitute the borders across which they move or at which they are made to halt. In these accounts, which are based on fine-tuned ethnographic research sensitive to historical depth and wider political-economic context and transformation, ‘moving’ is understood not only as mobility but as affect, where borders become not just something to be ‘crossed’ but something that is emotionally experienced and ‘felt’.

Open Access (free)
Crossing borders, changing times
Madeleine Hurd
Hastings Donnan
, and
Carolin Leutloff-Grandits

This chapter introduces the relationship between borders and time, exploring this relationship through three interrelated themes: the time-spaces generated by polity borders, which construct notions of ‘us’ and ‘them’; the ways in which time features in the cross-border networks of migrants; and time in relation to the body itself as borders are shaped, felt, experienced and embodied. Outlining the arguments of the contributors, the chapter highlights how the spatial-temporal representations of borders generate hierarchies between ‘East’ and ‘West’, which change with time as borders are redrawn. Border crossing may lead to a temporal synchrony and disjuncture both within and beyond the borders, which shape the practical as well as the moral and emotional contexts in which cross-border migrants live their daily lives. The affective networks which migrants build up across borders may link, fragment or rupture ties between spouses, neighbours, friends and families. The chapter also shows how border crossing is a very bodily experience, as borders slow, impede or advance the traffic of bodies according to prevailing constellations of power and opportunities for individual agency.

in Migrating borders and moving times