External Events & Calls



Fences, Walls and Borders: State of Insecurity ?

International conference organized by the Raoul Dandurand Chair at the University of Quebec at Montreal

in association with the Association for Borderlands Studies


May 19-20, 2011

Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the question still remains “Do good fences still make good neighbours”? Since the Great Wall of China, construction of which began under the Qin dynasty, the Antonine Wall, built in Scotland to support Hadrian's Wall, the Roman "Limes" or the Danevirk fence, the "wall" has been a constant in the protection of defined entities claiming sovereignty, East and West. But is the wall more than an historical relict for the management of borders? In recent years the wall has been given renewed vigour in North America, particularly along the U.S.-Mexico border, and in Israel , where the old Green line has been transformed into a wall separating Arab from Israeli. But the success of these new walls in the development of friendly and orderly relations between nations (or indeed, within nations) remains unclear. What role does the wall play in the development of security and insecurity? Do walls contribute to a sense of insecurity as much as they assuage fears and create a sense of security for those ‘behind the line’? Exactly what kind of security is associated with border walls?



  • Charles-Philippe David, Raoul-Dandurand Chair and Full Professor of Political Science, UQAM

  • Élisabeth Vallet, Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography and Research director of Geopolitics at the Raoul-Dandurand Chair UQAM

  • Heather Nicol, Professor of Geography, Trent University , President (2011-2012), Association for Borderlands Studies

Theme 1. Border fences and border walls in International Relations: Return or decline?

Globalizing discourse and the return of borders

Global hypothesis on the return of the wall in International Relations

Case studies on the return of the wall in International Relations

Theme 2. Border fences, walls and identities

Construction of national and local identities

Theoretical limology, walls and epistemology

Anthropological approaches to border walls and fences

Sociology of the walls/fences and their borderlands

Theme 3. Legal aspects of the walls

Separation and legitimation

Border walls: failure or success?

International, national and local

Legal aspects: Human rights and the wall, norms and the wall

Theme 4. Impacts of the walls

Economical impacts

Bypass strategies

Social and environmental impacts

Security industry and building border fences & walls


Languages: Proposals can be submitted in French and English.


Conference Dates and Deadlines: 

      • October 15th 2010 : deadline for submitting abstracts and proposals

      • December 2010 : proposals selection and notification sent to presenters

      • March, 15th 2011 : submission of papers to discussants

      • May 19-20th 2011: Conference to be held in Montreal .


        For more information, please follow this link .


* Call for Papers *

A Borderless Europe?

International Conference SDU Sønderborg 2010, Sept. 30. – Oct. 2. 2010 

On the threshold of a ‘borderless Europe’, research on every day life experiences with borders and border issues has become more relevant than ever. The mobility of everyday life reflected in increasing migration rates and cross-border commuting implies movements and activities crossing national, administrative, cultural and mental borders challenging dividing lines between European states, East and West, center and periphery, rich and poor within as well as conceptions of internal and external Europe.

Since the late 1990s, the European Union has had a new focus on the peripheries and borderlands of Europe. From considering them enclaves of stagnation and as more or less passive recipients of subsidies, the new profile in EU regional policies is that border regions are motors in the European integration process and encouraged to act as entrepreneurs of their own and the European developments. This shift marks new possibilities for cross-border and inter-regional cooperation.

However, even in today’s Europe, where we conceive the European state borders as more permeable than before, particularly within the ‘Schengenland’, the unambiguous absence of borders can prove hard to find. Historical conflicts, as well as politically discursive and mental barriers between the European populations seem to be more persistent than EU attempts to demolish border and integrate Europe. As for the European integration process, this point can be taken further, that integration is not a matter of overcoming the borders in Europe; rather it is a question of acknowledging the co-existence of many different versions of the European borders.

In contrast to considering borders to be mere physical dividing lines or easily dissolvable, this conference takes a cross-disciplinary perspective on borders and borderlands, discussing them as socially constructed, multiple practices and complex psychological patterns. Borders may thus represent boundaries as well as thresholds of passages, they can be symbolic or material, soft or hard, and they can appear permeable or extremely solid. This ambivalent character makes it crucial to investigate how the people of Europe practice and experience borders in everyday life.

This conference invites contributions that empirically as well as theoretically reflect on the challenges associated with living on, by, with and across the European borders. Contributions can have both contemporary and historical outlook. The conference committee welcomes contributions from all disciplines related to border issues (such as Ethnology, Anthropology, Sociology, European Studies, History, Political Science, Law, Economics, Geography, Business Studies, etc.)

The question of a ‘borderless Europe’ will be addressed from theoretical and empirical as well as practical perspectives:

1. How can we theoretically as well as methodologically conceive and conceptualise the complex character of European borders?

2. How are borders experienced in European every day life – not least among those living outside or at the external EU-borders?

3. Which kinds of challenges are connected to the governance of regions and cross-border cooperation?

4. How persistent are historical memory, discourse and imaginings in maintaining European borders?

5. What effect does EU’s regional policies have on cross-border mobility and the economic landscape of regional disparities in Europe?

6. How does new external EU-borders (Schengen) influence everyday life in border-regions?


The conference will be grouped into following themes:

I. Borders and regionalisation. Cross-border cooperation.

II. Borders and mobility. Migration and commuting.

III. Borders and Europeanisation/globalisation. Tracing links.  

Abstracts should be between 300 – 500 words and send to the organising committee no later than April 15. 2010.

We intend to publish an anthology based on revised versions of selected conference papers. If you are interested in contributing to the anthology, please send full papers to the organising committee no later than September 1. 2010. 

Keynote speakers:

To emphasise the intra-disciplinary scope of the conference, we have invited keynote speakers from different areas of regional studies. We are pleased to announce that so far five renowned researchers have confirmed their participation in the conference.

Ulf Hedetoft, Prof. of Nationality and Migration Studies, Saxo-Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Jouni Häkli, Prof. of Regional Studies, University of Tampere, Finland

Michael Keating, Prof. of Regional Studies, EUI, Italy

Doris Wastl-Walter, Prof. of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland 

Tom Wilson, Prof. of Anthropology, University of Binghamton, USA

Moreover, Friday afternoon associate professor Martin Klatt from the Department of Border Region Studies, SDU, will conduct an excursion into the history of the Danish/German borderlands. The Conference dinner Friday evening will take place in Flensburg, on the German side of the border in connection with the excursion.


The conference is a collaboration between the Department of Border Region Studies, University of Southern Denmark, and the Saxo-Institute & Centre for Modern European Studies (CEMES), University of Copenhagen. It is sponsored by the Department of Border Region Studies and CEMES. 

The organising committee:

Marie Sandberg, Assistant Professor, Saxo-Institute, University of Copenhagen: sandberg[at]hum.ku.dk

Martin Klatt, Associate Professor, Department of Border Region Studies, University of Southern Denmark: mk[at]sam.sdu.dk

Dorte Andersen, Assistant Professor, Department of Border Region Studies, University of Southern Denmark: doa[at]sam.sdu.dk