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Wolfgang Müller-Funk

This chapter contributes to key debates in border ontology and border anthropology through a critical re-evaluation of the work of the social theorist Georg Simmel. Through a theoretical discussion and an analysis of several border images and narratives, it argues that life at the border always involves a need to negotiate between the territorial, cultural and linguistic demands of the different spaces, revealing the instability and ambivalence of liminality. In an attempt to explore the potentiality of the theoretical frame for the study of border narratives and images, the chapter investigates various border figurations associated with limits and thresholds, often marked symbolically as bridges, staircases, windows and doors, which are part of an aesthetics of the border. The final section of the chapter addresses the film Babel (2006) directed by the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. It suggests that the multi-locational and multicultural elements of the film, seen in its locations ranging from Japan, the United States and Mexico testify to global cultural entanglements and the potentiality for border-crossings embedded in globalisation, but are challenged by the closed space of the tourist bus prohibiting communication between international tourists and the space travelled through.

in Border images, border narratives