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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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Phantom Borders


At a first simple descriptive level, phantom borders are, “earlier, mostly political demarcations or territorial divisions that structure space despite their previous institutional abolishment”, as described by Béatrice von Hirschhausen. Despite spatial political restructuring, the traces could be materially observed for example in architecture and rural settlement patterns or in infrastructure designs. In most enigmatic ways, traces left in contemporary societies by defunct territoriality can also be displayed in statistics or maps on voting behaviour or other social practices, even several decades after the dismantling of historic borders.

Invisible borders or cultural boundaries between ethnic groups are not marked on the ground but function as an interface between communities, regulate their exchanges and construct the limits of what can be crossed and what is transgressive. By contrast, phantom borders neither check nor regulate movement. They are crossed without transgression. They are less akin to borders as a complex political and symbolic apparatus than to discontinuity. Local societies may even have only a confused awareness of them. As ghosts, such historical “phantom borders” (we can also speak about “phantom spaces”, “phantom territorialities” or “phantom geographies”) might appear on some electoral maps for a time and later disappear.

“Phantom borders” is a term identified when analysing the enduring geographical-historic patterns found in East Central Europe, on the territory of nation states which were composed after the First and the Second World War, from early pieces of the Habsburg, Russian, German, or Ottoman Empires. On electoral...

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