This book is a theoretical and ethnographic study of the shifting border between the Republic of North Macedonia and Greece. The central argument is that political borders between states not only restrict or regulate the movement of people and things but are also always porous and permeable, exceeding state governmentality. To support this argument the book draws on scholarship from geology that describes and classifies different kinds of rock porosity. Just as seemingly solid rock is often laden with pores that allow the passage of liquids and gases, so too are ostensibly impenetrable borders laden with forms and infrastructures of passage. This metaphor is theoretically powerful, as it facilitates the idea of border porosities through a varied set of case studies centered on the Greek–Macedonian border. The case studies include: the history of railways in the region, border-town beauty tourism, child refugees during the Greek Civil War, transnational mining corporations and environmental activism, and, finally, a massive, highly politicized urban renewal project. Using interdisciplinary frameworks combining anthropology, history, philosophy, and geology, the book analyzes permeations triggered by the border and its porous nature that underline the empirical, political, and philosophical processes with all their emancipatory or restrictive effects.
This chapter analyzes recent protests and NGO activities against the open-pit gold and copper mines in the Valandovo–Bogdanci–Gevgelija and Halkidiki regions. In the most fertile region and the center of organic food production in the Republic of North Macedonia, the local population and environmental activists organized protests and four referendums, one of which was against the construction of an open-pit copper/gold mine where sulfuric acid and arsenic would be used to extract the metals. A similar open-pit gold mine was constructed on the Halkidiki peninsula in Greece, which prompted collaboration between eco-activists on both sides of the border. This is undeniably border porosity caused by transnational mining corporations and environmental activists opposing the corporate interests.
international organizations and projects in the region, the concept of borderporosity has allowed me to carve out new questions and new problematics for research in Southeastern Europe.
Zooming onto the railway infrastructure built and developed in the Balkans, porosity has allowed me to offer an alternative reading of the region's modern history, as well as an innovative take on temporality and spatiality in all their past and contemporary relevance. The desire to consume and gamble reveals the porous and gendered practices that propel people to cross
, form, and content. The frequent alterations of the border regimes in the Macedonia region of the Balkan Peninsula in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are most vividly captured by the term porosity.
Although my main objective in this book is to analyze this border by using the concept of porosity as a main analytical lens, I continue to rely on border theories that initially ignited my interest in studying borders. Porosity does not refute the political and social aspects that were introduced with the new approach to borders in the
In this chapter I discuss borderporosity as tourists in socialist Yugoslavia and the child refugees who had fled the Greek Civil War (1946–49) crossed the border between the two countries. Motivated by diametrically opposite reasons – some crossing the border for leisure and some fleeing war – the people who crossed the border have caused an enduring porosity that has persisted despite the rigid national policies of the two countries and the extraordinary conditions when these movements took place. I call this sedimentary porosity because
Beauty, entertainment, and gambling in the EU periphery
Regardless of political relations between Greece and RN Macedonia, money, goods, and services have successfully crossed the official state border, enabling different types of borderporosities during socialism and after 1991, the year when the Socialist Republic of Macedonia became the Republic of Macedonia. Since the early 2000s, however, with the construction of a few hotels and casinos in and around Gevgelija there has been an emerging demand for beauty services offered by the well-trained high-end cosmetic and hair-dressing professionals
Displaced borders in Skopje and the Colorful Revolution
This chapter expands the argument of borderporosity onto the project “Skopje 2014” and the aesthetic remodeling of the capital of RN Macedonia. Propelled by the conflict with Greece over the name Macedonia and the persistent conflict with the Albanian (predominantly Muslim) minority, the remodeling of Skopje deserves closer scrutiny because it reveals the radical aestheticization of contemporary politics in Macedonia, and the drawing of borders and boundaries through the act of aestheticization. I argue that this project constitutes the
From Ottoman railway lines to contemporary migrant transportation
lines and established at different points in the formations of the independent states occurred in different aspects of life such as the economy, politics, and the military. This porosity continues, as revealed in efforts by different nation-states to control the recent migration wave in 2015–16 and tame the borderporosity by using extreme measures such as barbed wire and thorough militarization of the border.
In her work on borders Sarah Green argues that we should not conceptualize of a border as a line drawn by the state
‘Arab Springs’ and their aftermath first challenged and
eventually destabilised this framework. In particular, uncertain
political transitions and the violent conflicts that flared up in Syria
and Libya resulted in increased borderporosity and large displacement
numbers. The EU became a target for mixed migratory flows on an
unprecedented scale: the peak was reached in 2015, when more than one