"Border Landscapes: Material Boundaries of Stasis and Mobility"

Workshops, conferences 2019

  • Date: Apr 12, 2019
  • Location: Lichtenberg-Kolleg Historic Observatory, Geismar Landstraße 11, 37083 Göttingen
"Border Landscapes: Material Boundaries of Stasis and Mobility"
This workshop examines borders as landscapes—designed spaces that are at once architectural, infrastructural, and geophysical. Border and landscape exhibit a conditionality of codependence, whereby the material qualities of land, water, and built environment acquire political significance even as they shape and limn territory. Border landscapes are built from human and nonhuman bodies, infrastructures, vertical spaces, the commons and atmospheres—both literal and metaphorical. Approaching borders as landscapes brings into focus the specific form and substance of ‘walled flows,’ the movement of people and capital through uneven circuits of global space. It devotes particular attention to the ways in which design, drawing on elements of land and sea, enables the mobility of goods and capital through global networks while inhibiting human movement across urban, national, and regional boundaries.

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‘Landscape’ occupies a unique position in the lexicon of spatial concepts. Landscapes represent the interface of the designed built environment and a milieu of creation beyond that of complete human control. Through their ambiguous and fluid boundaries, landscapes hybridize society/nature, human/nonhuman, built/natural binaries and combine multiple spaces and objects in their evocation of sensory-aesthetic experience.

Furthermore, landscapes serve as a means to enact particular forms of violence and power. The workshop calls attention to the changing shape of a global bordering regime in which the materiality of borders has been weaponized, the ways the heat of desert borders, the vastness of the sea, and the remote location of detention centers have been utilized as constraints on human movement. The shifting spatial configuration of borders complicates the relation between landscapes of ‘inside’ and ‘outside.’ The meticulous fortification of everyday life and the proliferation of borders assemble surveillance technologies, walls, checkpoints, and excision zones while simultaneously establishing zones of abandonment, both territorial and extraterritorial, where violence unfolds through separation, neglect, and disinvestment.

The workshop further explores the methods and strategies of representation by focusing on space, place, scale, and materiality in the study of contemporary border. It reflects on how such methods and strategies contribute to practices of border crossing, transnational solidarity, contestation, and resistance.

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