Current Research Issues

Over the past 20 years, we have witnessed an exponential growth of border studies, predominantly in Europe and North America. The enlargement of the EU in 2005 brought about a change in the meaning and permeability of the Union's internal and external borders, while 9/11 resulted in putting the meaning of the outer borders of the US into a new geopolitical framework.

In Europe, borders have been an even greater source of discussion since the enlargement of the Schengen space in 2008, which means a larger internally 'borderless' Europe with the new member states enforcing the outer borders of 'fortress Europe'. This has led to critical discussion in the previous member states and needs more research on the new neighborhoods.

In Africa, borderlands are under tremendous pressure by the great numbers of refugees, who flee as a result of civil war or environmental dangers. Here, not much research has been undertaken yet, so we are in need of a greater understanding of the processes of inclusion and exclusion in borderlands.

Another challenge for borderlands is ongoing climatic and environmental change, which involves the entire planet, regardless of borders. Nevertheless, state responses in the form of regulations will differ along the borders, thus creating substantially different economic environments.

In addition, both the special restrictions and potential advantages of borderlands are being researched. A partial list of research issues includes the constant confrontation between regional and national identities and the subsequent questioning of the nation state and its norms; the level of development as a function of national law, international relations, and asymmetries; borderlands as both lived and perceived spaces; and borderlands as socially and discursively constructed regions.