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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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Border Resource


At first glance, apprehending borders as resources may seem like an oxymoron. In many cases and for many people, national borders refer rather to the idea of separation, barrier or hindrance. That being said, and in spite of their undeniable constraining aspects, borders also have some practical utility for human societies. Since their ‘invention’ at the beginning of the modern era, territorial borders have been widely mobilized to affirm the territorial sovereignty of states, either functionally through the control of mobility and flows or symbolically with the legitimization of the exercise of an authority over a portion of space. From an economic perspective, they have allowed the protection of market areas, the demarcation of public-goods based externality fields (i.e., the financing of public infrastructure) and, as an induced effect, the development of legal or illicit activities and trade based on cross-border differentials. Last, from a cultural point of view, borders have played a key role in the formation and perpetuation of national identities. The explicit reference to the notion of borders as resources is, however, relatively recent and denotes a change is the way borders are defined: from a physical outcome of socio-political processes to ‘dynamic institutions’ constantly made and remade through the practices of a great variety of actors (and not only the state).

In the contemporary era, the apprehension of borders as resources specifically refers to two contrasting perspectives. The first perspective, points to the context of opening borders (i.e., ‘de-bordering’) and the fact...

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