CfP: Contesting Border Formation(s): Territory, Crises, and Resistance

Final CFP: AAG 2018
Contesting Border Formation(s): Territory, Crises, and Resistance

Vera Smirnova, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech
Jared Keyel, Government and International Affairs, Virginia Tech

Sponsored by the Political Geography Specialty Group

Borders are politically and socially produced phenomena, they appear as fixed, yet are always in flux. Borders are not merely edges but contested and strategic frontiers, crucial for (re)production of prevalent power relations. Border formation can be exploited to legitimize dispossession, land theft, or the displacement of marginalized communities and, as Agamben (2005) has argued, create states and zones of exception. Border (re)formation in response to the current economic crises and political instabilities has proven to be a disputed process whereby varied constellations of overlapping actors and interests seek to exploit moments of instability to consolidate and exercise power in novel ways. ‘Border’ as a concept has generated much research in the fields of political geography, political theory, and international relations, yet, it has received comparatively less attention than other scales of analysis such as ‘territory’ or ‘space’. Moreover, Anglophone scholarship on border formation, in many cases, is state-centric, primarily seeing borders as a state territorial container or coercive state power strategy (Soja, 1971; Gottmann, 1973; Sack, 1986; Taylor, 1994; Elden, 2009).

This session seeks contributions that contest border formation in the present moment and/or through their historical manifestations, advance understanding of borders that serve at once as a means of coercion and resistance, or perceive borders as lived spaces where both top-down and bottom-up practices overlap and often clash. We invite theoretically rich and/or empirically grounded papers that directly engage in problematizing border formation and together can unite, contribute, or advance the on-going debate.

Topics might include but are not limited to:
– Urbanization, dispossession, and displacement;
– Land appropriation, enclosure, and agrarian crisis;
– Migration and refugee crisis;
– Decolonization or new imperialism;
– Sovereignty and territoriality;
– Violence and territoriality;
– Borders in racialized or gendered marginalization;

If you are interested in joining the session, please send abstracts of up to 250 words to Vera Smirnova ( and Jared Keyel ( by October 24, we will respond right away so that you have time to register on October 25th.

Agamben G (2005) State of exception. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Elden S (2009) Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Gottmann J (1973) Significance of Territory. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.
Sack RD (1986) Human Territoriality: Its Theory and History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Soja E (1971) The Political Organization of Space. Washington, DC: Commission on College Geography, Association of American Geographers.