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Critical Dictionary on Borders, Cross-Border Cooperation and European Integration


Edited By Birte Wassenberg and Bernard Reitel

This Critical Dictionary on Borders, Cross-Border Cooperation and European Integration is the first encyclopaedia which combines two so far not well interconnected interdisciplinary research fields, i.e. Border Studies and European Studies. Organised in an alphabetical order, it contains 207 articles written by 115 authors from different countries and scientific disciplines which are accompanied by 58 maps. The articles deal with theory, terminology, concepts, actors, themes and spaces of neighbourhood relations at European borders and in borderlands of and around the European Union (EU). Taking into account a multi-scale perspective from the local to the global, the Critical Dictionary follows a combined historical-geographical approach and is co-directed by Birte Wassenberg and Bernard Reitel, with a large contribution of Jean Peyrony and Jean Rubio from the Mission opérationnelle transfrontalère (MOT), especially for the cartography. The Dictionary is also part of four Jean Monnet activities supported by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union for the period 2016-2022: two Jean Monnet projects on EU border regions (University Strasbourg), one Jean Monnet network (Frontem) and the Franco-German Jean Monnet excellence Center in Strasbourg, as well as the Jean Monnet Chair of Bernard Reitel on borders and European integration. Rather than being designed as an objective compilation of facts and figures, it should serve as a critical tool for discussion between researchers, students and practitioners working in the field of borders, cross-border cooperation and European Integration.

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Geopolitics of Borders


Borders are geopolitical objects par excellence, since they express the interaction between politics and territorial matters. Whatever their origin, borders coincide with the limits within which sovereignty can be exercised and are one of the parameters of political identity as a framework for the definition of citizenship. They are institutions, registered in international treaties. They are the location where functions of governance (control and security) and taxation can be performed, even though they have become less visible in the more integrated space of the European Union (EU), a unique experiment in the world, and even though such functions are more often performed in ports of entry (airports) than in the custom-houses where outer envelopes can be entered.

Beyond history and geopolitics, borders also pertain to anthropology, which invites us to recognize the polarization of human space clearly expressed in ancient mythologies, with dual configurations including a reassuring, closed and stable inside and a disquieting, open, mobile outside: Hestia and Hermes, a pair of opposed and complementary deities. Those symbolical markers are indispensable for nations, which need an inside in order to interact with an outside.

Without this duality, how could one feel a member of a political community, be it a nation or a group of nations, which can decide its own fate? “To be ourselves, we have to project towards the others, to find our natural extension in them and by them. If we remain locked within our identity, we lose ourselves and...

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