CFP: Association for Borderlands Studies World Conference 2018

Patrice Dabrowski's picture

Association for Borderlands Studies World Conference 2018 – Call for Papers

After the success of the ABS 1st World Conference in 2014, The Association for Borderlands
Studies is most pleased to announce the second event in this truly international conference
series. The ABS 2nd World Conference is organized by the Faculty of Historical and Cultural
Studies at the University of Vienna and hosted in Vienna and Budapest, 10th to 14th July 2018.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire, we invite
proposals for individual papers, posters, complete panels, podium discussions and other
interventions related to the interdisciplinary study of borders, border areas and cross-border
interaction. The organizing theme for this Conference is:

Border-Making and its Consequences – interpreting evidence from the “post-Colonial”
and “post-Imperial” 20th Century

Borders and borderlands are again at the centre of debate regarding global political, sociocultural,
economic and environmental tensions and conflicts – they also potentially offer spaces
of negotiation and dialogue for their resolution. Global history however testifies to the fact that
borderlands have frequently been a target of mistrust, precisely because they have been
perceived as threatening – as ambiguous spaces of identity, allegiance, and historical memory.
Attempts to eradicate borderlands have taken place through armed conflict, the ideological
creation of the Cold War and other confrontational borders, the dismemberment of states,
territorial shifts and, most drastically, ethnic cleansing.

The post-imperial experience of Europe, for example, raises numerous questions that relate to
borders, identities and citizenship and, ultimately, migration. The dissolution of multinational
empires such as the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman in the early 20th Century as well as the
creation of new states and/or borders in Western Europe, such as Ireland, which inspired other
subjects of colonial empires, were momentous historical events with far-reaching
consequences far beyond Europe. However, one of the lessons that emerged from this
experience is that nationalisms that insist on singular identities and cultural homogeneity are
permanent sources of conflict. Whereas borders and the creation of new nation-states were
considered a solution to war after WWI, subsequent events and the disaster of WWII have
proved otherwise.

On the other hand, visions of a borderless world and post-Cold War “de-bordering” after the
collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were also short-lived, a fact evidenced by the
strong militarization of many borders worldwide and the emerging of a border industrial
complex in Europe, North America, the Middle East and elsewhere. Borders and Borderlands
are therefore also central to understanding the consequences of security policies and the control
of mobility at the national, regional, and global levels: in terms of perceived understandings of
security, borders represent an interface between domestic concerns and wider interstate and
intercultural contexts. At the most basic, borders serve to protect national societies from
external threats, real or imagined, while maintaining conditions for their economic
sustainability. Beyond this, however, the functions and social significance of borders not only
reflect the means in which security risks and challenges can be articulated and acted upon but
also ethical questions of considerable importance.

Globally, conflicts over borders and territories are quite common in the post-colonial world,
where bordering was a result of colonial policies ignoring historical and socio-political
contexts. Still, borders are regarded as marks of national identity by state elites even in the
post-colonial world, and any dilution of this is strongly resisted resulting in increasingly
securitised borders also in the post-colonial world.

At this conference, attention will be centered on the historical and contemporary dynamics of
border creation, border management and border shifting, as well as the consequences of these
practices for the societies concerned. Borders delineate space, which both creates and
reproduces order. We seek to gain deeper insight into the similarities and differences in the
way borders are made around the world, as well as the forms and functions borders fulfil
throughout time. We will also explore ethical questions that emerge from border politics and
border-making. On a more visionary note, ABS World will consider borders and borderlands
as spaces of encounter and plurality. Indeed, the possibility of pluralism, not as a collection
of separate cultural realms as some could envision, but as a context where shared
commitments, and not necessarily shared values, could allow for more inclusive
understandings of community and more accommodating attitudes to multiculturalism and

ABS World is open to contributions that critically discuss consequences of border politics and
border-making. We particularly encourage papers that engage with the following issues:
- Post-Colonial borders and post-Imperial borders: issues and challenges
- Transborder communities, regional identity and placemaking
- Cross-border regions in an era marked by resurgent nationalisms
- Cross-border cooperation and regional integration
- Cross-border environmental concerns, climate change
- Border related violence: militarization of borders, migration, crime
- Border economics
- The border-industrial complex
- Border urbanization and metropolization
- Border governance and institutions
- Right wing populism and the re-bordering of Europe
- End of History – return of Geopolitics?
- Identity politics, “United in Diversity” – internal bordering of societies
- Global capitalism and borders
- Borders and multiculturalism
- New borders at sea: access to raw materials
- Borders as a resource for political innovation
- Visual, cultural and artistic approaches towards borders and migration

Please submit your panel/podium discussion/other proposals online until the 15th of August;
you do not have to include a final list of participants yet. Submitting abstracts will be possible
between August 21st and September 30th. In case you want to participate in one of our special
programs, please take note that the deadlines may differ depending on the respective organizer.
You may also be required to submit your paper to the organizer for approval before uploading
it to the website.

For more information, please visit