Subprojects | Project Area C | Circulation and Order

The Borders of the World: Processes of De- and Rebordering in a Global Perspective

In the project “The Borders of the World: Processes of De- and Rebordering in a Global Perspective”, Prof. Dr. Steffen Mau and his colleagues analyse territorial borders between different nation-states.

In contrast to earlier assumptions of globalisation literature, which predicted ongoing debordering and a diminishing role of borders, the project conceptualises borders as physical and material barriers. This conceptualisation allows to analyse how border infrastructures affect the appropriation of space, the organisation of territoriality, and the mobility of individuals. In this perspective, rebordering and re-figuration are intertwined.

The project applies a comparative approach in order to survey the material and physical qualities of land border of nation-states. We expect that differing border configurations lead to varying relations of space and spatial stabilisation.

The project aims at surveying all land borders between nation-states. A systematic typology of borders will include borders without barriers, borders with punctual controls and patrols, and those that feature significant fences and walls with barbed wire.

On the basis of this taxonomy, case studies on borders that are highly fortified and militarised will be conducted. The qualitative part of the study is intended to provide in-depth insights on the factors driving the fortification and militarisation of borders as well as their effect on border crossings, interactions and mobility.


Mau S (2020) Borders that stay, move, and expand. In: Shachar A (ed.), The Shifting Border. Legal Cartographies of Migration and Mobility. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 140-158.

Gülzau F & Mau S (under review) Mauern, Barrieren, Kontrollpunkte, Grenzsteine. Eine Topologie von Grenzinfrastrukturen auf dem afrikanischen Kontinent, Comparativ – Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und Gesellschaftsforschung.

Korte K (2020) “Who is the Animal in the Zoo?” Fencing in and Fencing out at the Hungarian-Serbian Border. A Qualitative Case Study. Journal of Borderland Studies. DOI: 10.1080/08865655.2020.1787188.

Construction of barrier in Hungarian-Serbian border (© Délmagyarország/Schmidt Andrea)
Border Field State Park / Imperial Beach, San Diego, California The fence between the USA and Mexico along the Pacific Ocean just south of San Diego. (© Tony Webster)
India-Pakistan Border (© Gabriele Giuseppini)
Barrier in Hungarian-Serbian border (© Délmagyarország/Schmidt Andrea)
Border Towns: San Diego and Tijuana (© Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde)

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