The political materialities of borders

New theoretical directions

Materiality has long been tied to the political projects of nationalism and capitalism. But how are we to rethink borders in this context? Is the border the limit where the capitalist nation-state, contested and re-created at its centre, becomes fixed? Or is it something else? Is the border something, or does it instead do things? This volume brings questions of materiality to bear specifically on the study of borders. These questions address specifically the shift from ontology to process in thinking about borders. The political materialities of borders does not presume the material aspect of borders but rather explores the ways in which any such materiality comes into being. Through ethnographic and philosophical explorations of the ontology of borders and its limitations from the perspective of materiality, this volume seeks to throw light on the interaction between the materiality of state borders and the non-material aspects of state-making. This enables a new understanding of borders as productive of the politics of materiality, on which both the state project rests, including its multifarious forms in the post-nation-state era.

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‘They argue that borders are mediations between the material and the ideological, or the non-material more generally. They are created, recreated, and brought to life from the interconnectedness of state as a material project and state as an abstraction. [...] Olga Demetriou and Rozita Dimova argue that the materiality of borders is a consolidation and reproduction of political ideology; as ideologies shift and change, so do borders. There are material conditions, physical topographies, and social relations prior to a border, or a particular instantiation of a border, and they change as new forms of subjectivities are brought about by the border-work.’
Ville Laakkonen, Suomen Antropologi, Vol. 44, No. 2
July 2020

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