#learn power wednesday: On borders, and power

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What do borders actually do, what purpose do they serve? And what is their relationship to power? Michel Lussault and Elisabeth Vallet are trying to answer those questions, each in their different ways.

In L’Homme spatial, La construction de l’espace social, French Geographer Michel Lussault reminds us that the space we inhabit as human beings is also socially constructed, with the use of borders, walls and barriers playing an important role in defining not only who is who, but also who is a winner or loser, and who is in or out. According to Lussault, “la lutte des classes” (class war) has de facto been replaced by “la lutte pour des places” (a fight for spaces). Wherever we go, we are being contained, separated and filtered, sometimes by physical barriers, sometimes with the help of social norms, invisible borders, all shaping real geography.

When it comes to borders and states, their importance and defining symbolism cannot be understated. It is said that states that do not control their borders cannot claim to be states. Elisabeth Vallet of the University of Quebec, Montreal, ponders the relationship between borders and feelings of security in Borders, Fences and Walls – State of Insecurity?. At a time when walls and barriers are multiplying, what is their role, and are they effective? 

Further reading:

Michel Lussault, L’Homme spatial, La construction de l’espace social, Seuil, 2007

Elisabeth Valley , Borders, Fences and Walls – State of Insecurity?, Routledge, 2014

http://www.franceculture.fr/geopolitique/le-monde-se-referme-la-carte-des-murs

Johanna M

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