New perspectives on borders, time and migration

Carolin Leutloff-Grandits (Frankfurt/Oder), Frances Pine (London)

AM 03

In this panel, we want to focus on time, a dimension which is often neglected when looking at borders. In fact, borders are not only spatial demarcations which are socially constructed; they also have a temporal existence and influence our perceptions of time. Borders change with time and cannot be observed outside their historical context. But the temporal dimension of borders also goes beyond their historical embedding. Borders create certain time perceptions, as they may force people to wait, they may create liminal spaces which have a temporal existence, or they may create embordered spatial temporal hierarchies, as when those “on the other side of the border” appear to be less advanced than those belonging ‘inside’ the bordered community. Especially in relation to migration, the temporal aspects of borders become obvious. It is not only the different speed with which people (and goods) may cross a geo-political border (if they can cross it at all). As soon as a state border has been crossed, migrants meet manifold inner borders which have a temporal dimension, too: they either have to wait for their legal residency status within the country, or their legal residency status is temporally restricted. They may also have to meet deadlines to satisfy particular requirements for crossing an administrative boundary. This may lead to the opening of a new (temporally restricted) space of action, while the failure to meet such requirements may lead to a dead end and possibly a forced return. Once they have crossed a geo-political border, migrants may also be perceived as backward because they are imagined to be less civilized, and less modern. In other words, at particular border moments, they occupy both time and temporality/history differently from those with established rights of residence and citizenship. On the panel, we thus look at borders beyond their geo-political existence, and focus on shifting social and cultural boundaries and their temporal dimensions.


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