Borderlands as Everyday Spaces

Above, borderlands were discussed primarily as cross-border spaces, because the (inter)dependency between both sides of the border is usually very high, which is also true in everyday life. In borderlands, distinct everyday (inter)action spaces can be observed. The population copes with its given realities, which are greatly determined by a number of factors: binational relations, national border policies, the overall economic situation, cultural conditions, and personal experience. Everyday spaces in borderlands expand to become cross-border spaces if the border regimes are sufficiently open.

Everyday spaces may also be understood as social, overlapping political and functional spaces. These spaces are continuously produced and reproduced in single actions, networks, and carrying out projects, thus ignoring state borders. Social spaces are relational, that is, they are produced and exist for as long as people interact with each other. They do not constitute clear demarcations or barriers inscribed in space, although political borders may be considered clear barriers. Social spaces mirror social and cultural links as well as economic dependencies. This has best been portrayed in Ambos Nogales on the US–Mexican border, where people on both sides of the border are socially integrated. There, people have clearly constituted social spaces and experience living across 'the line'. Even after 9/11, when border enforcement tightened, their understanding of interactions and their production of (social) spaces did not change. They commute back and forth to shop, meet friends and family, and use the entertainment facilities on the Mexican side of the border. Along the Finnish–Swedish border, functional and everyday spaces are to some extent highly integrated. Residents create a single integrated borderland in the course of their daily activities; they do not reflect on territorial distinctions as they go about shopping on one side and meeting friends on the other.

However, in everyday spaces, the two populations also interact with each other. If these interactions are considered social space, then the construction of 'we' and 'the other' requires discussion. It is primarily the border itself that demarcates two distinct settings and populations. The populations in adjacent borderlands live in different national contexts with diverse norms, values, and standards, which may affect everyday activities and allow each population to highlight the differences between itself and the neighboring population. Furthermore, borderland populations may also distinguish themselves from those in the rest of their country. In their special situation, inhabitants have developed an understanding of their area and neighbors; they assume parallels in understanding and perspective and express less interest in their respective central governments.