Lines, spaces, borders

“Botero’s women are not fat. They are space. They are not insatiable for sweets, they are hungry of space”. Carlos Fuentes describes the unforgettable personages of Fernando Botero not in terms of aesthetics, but of space. Space becomes a strong metaphor.

The global has replaced the universal; space has replaced time (Therborn 2000).


Anna Krasteva “Lines, spaces, borders”

Lecture at the CAS seminar, 6.02.14, 16.30

7, Stefan Karadja

The paper starts by analyzing one epistemological transition – from one established understanding of the social to a new one, the first – having time as its cornerstone, the second – space. This epistemological change does not aim to turn its back on temporality or duration. Its ambitions are pointed in two other directions: relativizing determinism, which is an inherent part of historicism, and, most of all, giving contingency a chance (Krasteva 2004).

The spatial turn, which marked the social sciences in the 90-ies, expresses the radical character of this theoretical transition and its ambition to offer an active understanding of space: “Foundational is the insight that space is socially produced; rather than a mere physical container for the play of social forces and temporal relations, space is conceived at once as both the medium and presupposition for sociality and historicity” (Houtum, Kramsch, Zierhofer 2005, p. 4).

The space as social construction is asymmetrically analyzed in the next two parts.  Why the line became straight within modernity? Why different civilizations prefer different lines? These are other questions articulate briefly the anthropology of lines.

Borders are the royal concept of the presentation. They will be analyzed in three perspectives: debrodization vs overproduction of borders, symbols, representations; bordering, ordering, othering of border politics; re/deconstructing of borders in the mental maps of young Balkan citizens.

“Bordering, ordering, othering” (Henk van Houtum and Ton van Naerssen 2002), insightfully synthesizes borderland studies:

  • The ambition of this new field to express and to affirm itself as one of the leaders of the spatial turn in social sciences;
  • The determination of borderland studies to address the crucial concepts of power, sovereignty, de/re/territorialization, difference, alterity;
  • The constructivist pathos of this new vision, in which the borders lose their geographical grammar and political solidity, and become competition and fights for meaning, signification, and power.

All three are crucial for my analysis, situated at the crossing of the overproduction of borders, on one side, and the overproduction of representations, meanings, imaginaries of boundaries, on another. The Balkans are among the loci of intensive whirlpool of politics of bordering, ordering, and othering.

Граници или глобализация: балкански дилеми

Re/de/construire les frontieres


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