Boundaries as Social Processes (Anssi Paasi, 2007) | Identity (Social ...

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Boundaries as Social Processes: Territoriality in the World of Flows ANSSI PAASI Political geographers and pol......


Boundaries as Social Processes: Territoriality in the World of Flows ANSSI PAASI

Political geographers and political scientists have for a long time perceived boundaries as fixed, stable empirical entities which divide the global space into bounded units that change mainly as a consequence of conflicts. Sibley points out that the boundary question has been a traditional but undertheorised concern in human geography.1 Perhaps this is the reason why geographers have not traditionally paid much attention to the meanings of boundaries in the construction, organisation and reproduction of social life, territoriality and power, but rather have understood boundaries as forming categories of their own and then classified them on diverging grounds.2 This has been linked with the fact that the state-centred system of territories and boundaries largely defines how we understand and represent the world and how knowledge of the geography of the world is produced, organised and used in the reproduction of the nation-state system. The logic of this maintains that all individuals should belong to a nation and have a national identity and state citizenship and that the bordered state sovereignties are the fulfillment of a historical destiny. This view has become pivotal in defining not only our world-views but also human identities. National identity is only one of many, often coexisting and overlapping identities (religious, tribal, linguistic, class, gender, etc.) but it is perhaps the most fundamental in the modern world. Greenfeld and Chirot argue that this identity actually defines the very essence of the individual, which the other identities only slightly modify.3 States are in a decisive role in the production and reproduction these manifestations of territoriality, particularly through spatial socialisation and territorialisation of meaning, which occur in many ways through education, politics, administration and governance.4 This territorialisation takes place through physical and symbolic violence, and states everywhere attempt to control, marginalise or destroy various aspects of centrifugal otherness, such as instances of ethnic solidarity or indigenous movements.5 Researchers have not been innocent regarding this territorialisation of the world. They continually produce statistical information in a state-based framework and construct narratives on how the ideas of sovereignty and the



system of states have developed in relation to changing physico-material, economic and technological circumstances.6 They also recount how the ideology of nationalism and ideas of the nation as a manifestation of this ideology gradually emerged and spread to replace absolutist rule, and how the rise of the modern territorial system of (nation-) states finally fixed the network of diffuse, permeable frontiers to form a grid of exclusive territorial boundaries.7 Agnew discusses this acceptance of state and nation as given and calls it methodological nationalism, noting that this idea has lain behind both mainstream and much radical social science.8 Boundaries in the 'World of Flows' Many contemporary discourses have began to challenge the state-centred conceptual narratives during the last decade or so - and to provide new ones in their place. The strongest challenges have emerged from overlapping discourses on postmodern aesthetics, style and culture, the epoch particularly the socio-economic condition of postmodernity, with its emerging 'flow' rhetoric - and, finally, a postmodern (or rather poststructuralist) understanding of the constructed and contested nature of identities, knowledge and 'truth'. In particular, dissident international relations theorists and critical geopoliticians, often drawing on poststructuralist argumentation, have aimed at rendering 'theoretically visible' the constituents of the territorial trap - the traditional assumptions of state territoriality and fixed images of the bordered world of nation-states and identities.9 As Shapiro writes; 'The assumption that bordered state sovereignties are the fulfillment of a historical destiny rather than a particular, and in some quarters controversial, form of political containment has been challenged.'10 An increasingly critical attitude exists towards the state and boundaries as categories that are taken for granted, and this can also be seen in a new interest in boundary literature, which seems to be emerging on the basis of both theoretical motives and concrete border cases." The second challenge for border studies has been more practically based, often emerging from the context of post-Cold War Europe and from concrete efforts to expand various forms of cross-border co-operation.12 This is linked with a broader context, i.e. the processes of globalisation. It is now increasingly being argued that capitalism and the processes of globalisation will give rise to new global geographies and increase all manner of links (cultural, political, economic, informational) across boundaries. This will detract from the role of state boundaries and sovereignty and lead to the de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation of the territorial system. Boundaries (and nation-states) are comprehended as



fading dimensions in socio-spatial transformation rather than fixed physical lines. The ideas of de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation come originally from the psychoanalytically-laden works of Deleuze and Guattari,13 but in the current geopolitical literature they seem to be much used metaphors for cultural, social and spatial change. OTuathail, following the philosopher Virilio, argues that de-territorialisation is a question: it 'evokes the challenges posed to the status of territory, our territorially embedded understandings of geography, governance and geopolitics, states, places and the social sciences, by planetary communication networks and globalising tendencies'.'" Researchers in economics, cultural studies and international relations are engaged today in evaluating the changing roles of state, sovereignty and boundaries, and in extreme cases their disappearance. Much of this discourse is linked with ideas of globalisation, but scholars are not unanimous about this phenomenon and its effects on global-local relations and on boundaries. Amin and Thrift, for example, argue that 'globalisation does not represent the end of territorial distinctions and distinctiveness', rather it means 'an added set of influences on local economic identities and developing capacities'.15 In any case, the new rhetoric reflects changing global links, and boundaries are increasingly being understood as symbols of a past, fixed world that will be replaced by a more dynamic one. Accordingly, this process will reduce the roles of the sovereignty and identities of states and therefore also challenge national identities and boundaries. Few have been more explicit than Ohmae, who declares that 'in terms of real flows of economic activity, nation states have already lost their role as meaningful units of participation in the global economy of today's borderless world'.16 In spite of globalisation, many authors argue that the state will still be the major context in which we organise our daily lives in the future, and it is important to note that territorial states are now operating in a different, global context.17 Hirst and Thompson in particular remind us that despite the rhetoric of globalisation, the bulk of the world's population live in closed worlds and are 'trapped by the lottery of their birth'. Boundaries will continue their existence and will continue to be linked with the idea of sovereignty. Hirst and Thompson maintain that states remain sovereign, not in the sense that they are all-powerful or omnipotent within their territories, but rather because they police the boundaries of these territories.18 Anderson, for his part, has noted that 'in some ways the modern nationstate, with its sovereignty defined by familiar territorial boundaries, seems as firmly rooted as ever', and he goes on, 'tax-collectors stop at the border, immigrants are stopped at the same border and transnational (or, more strictly speaking, trans-state) linkages can still be snapped off by independent state power'.19



The Purpose and Empirical Context of this Article This paper will continue from the arguments set forth by Hirst and Thompson and by Anderson. Its argument will be that the debates on globalisation, de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation have raised serious questions for border scholars, but the idea of a boundary has been understood rather vaguely in these debates. Scholars have considered various social and cultural phenomena and their effects on boundaries rather than the changing meanings of boundaries as manifestations of territoriality. Territoriality is, as Sack defines it, a spatial strategy which can be employed to affect, influence, or control resources and people, by controlling area.20 It is obvious that this strategy is still in use 'in the world of flows', but the forms in which it occurs must be much more complicated than before and there are obviously many coterminous strategies in operation, some of them overlapping and some even conflicting. This is what several authors mean when they argue that we are now moving to new medievalism typified by overlapping authorities and contested loyalties between nation-states and other agencies - with the EU as perhaps the most commonly used example of this.21 Therefore, instead of repeating much used arguments showing how nation-states and boundaries are disappearing, the aim of this paper is to scrutinize recent theoretical discourses presented in social and cultural studies and on this basis to suggest some new perspectives for boundary studies. The current confusion on the roles of boundaries is easier to understand if we consider the roles of boundaries as institutions and symbols.22 This helps us to realise the increasingly complicated meanings of boundaries and the fact that the same symbolising element may have variegated meanings for different people in different contexts.23 It is obvious that the arguments provided by the extreme globalisation theoreticians have also reflected the traditional meanings of boundaries, interpreting them as fixed, absolute, almost material entities. Nevertheless, one of the major challenges is to note the fact that boundaries are contextual phenomena and can vary from alienated to co-existent, or from interdependent borderlands to integrated ones, to employ the concepts of Martinez. This variation may be seen even in the case of single boundaries when they are analysed in a historical perspective.24 Therefore, instead of comprehending boundaries merely as stable, fixed lines and products of a modernist project, the aim of this paper is to conceptualise them as processes that exist in socio-cultural action and discourses. While state boundaries still have many of their traditional functions, e.g. as the territorial limits of sovereign states, this paper tries to broaden the understanding of these functions and meanings. This is due to



the fact that social action, discourse and ideologies produce diverging, perpetually changing meanings for boundaries and these are then used as instruments or mediums of social distinction and control. Boundaries are institutions, but they exist simultaneously on various spatial scales in a myriad of practices and discourses included in culture, politics, economics, administration or education. If some of these practices and discourses, e.g. in the fields of economics, foreign policy or identity, happen to change, this does not inevitably mean the disappearance of boundaries. It is portentous to note that the meanings of sovereignty and territoriality are also perpetually changing, implying that territoriality is not just a static, unchanging form of behaviour for a state.25 Taylor has argued that as a political, economic and cultural container, a state has diverse orientations.26 As a power container it strives to preserve existing boundaries. This will usually be done by organising foreign and defence policies, a police force and an army, together with education and various forms of legislation, on a basis which reflects state-centred forms of territoriality. As a wealth container, a state will strive to enlarge its territory, i.e. to strengthen its economic space of links and flows outside its existing territory, while conversely, as a cultural container it will tend towards smaller territories, although it will concomitantly aim to maintain the national identity space and, linked with the economic space, this may again presuppose a larger territory. We will look here at three challenging themes which seem to be arising in the field of contemporary boundary studies, and will develop an approach that identifies boundaries as complicated social processes and discourses rather than fixed lines. Firstly we will discuss the discursive construction of boundaries and the role of narratives in this process. This is linked with the relation between boundaries and identity, the second theme. Thirdly, we will consider the links between boundaries and power. Even though this paper is mainly theoretical and conceptual in its aims, each of these perspectives will be illustrated by using concrete examples. These examples concern the Finnish-Russian border area, but they also draw on broader contexts, particularly the EU, to shape the contemporary meanings of this area. Both the theoretical discussion and empirical examples are aimed at illustrating the complicated forms of territoriality that exist in the contemporary world and at suggesting some alternatives for traditional boundary studies. The Finnish-Russian border is a good example of various forms of deterritorialisation that have occurred since the collapse of the rigid East-West dichotomy, and also shows that it is essential to consider the multidimensionality of borders and approach them contextually. A longer historical perspective, beginning from the period when Finland was an



autonomous state within the Russian Empire (1809-1917) before gaining its independence in 1917, shows the importance of understanding boundaries contextually.27 During the autonomy period the border was very much an open one and there was a great deal of cultural and economic cross-border interaction. Using the categories of Martinez, this may perhaps be labelled as an interdependent borderland.28 When Finland gained its independence, the territorial strategy of the state changed radically: the border became an ideological one, a much used example in textbooks of political geography, and there was a minimal amount of interaction across the border - it was a typical alienated borderland. Furthermore, the border itself became a decisive symbol in the Finnish national identity, since it distinguished Finland from the Soviet Union, typically represented as the Other, or the Evil One.29 After the Second World War, Finland had to cede more than 12 per cent of its territory to the Soviet Union and the border became a strictly guarded line. Finland's position in western geopolitical images also changed, so that where it had been classified in the western bloc before the Second World War, it was represented in textbooks of political geography after the war as an eastern European state. This was very much based on the changes in the country's international geopolitical position that followed from the pacts that it was forced to enter into with the Soviet Union. The Finnish state adopted a very cautious foreign policy, and all cross-border trade was organised formally at state level.30 After the demise of the Soviet Union this strictly closed boundary between a small, western capitalist state and the leading socialist state changed rapidly and became much more open to all kinds of flows. It is still strictly guarded on both sides, however, illustrating in a sense the arguments set out by Taylor on the diverging, coexisting territorial strategies that nation-states may practice.31 Finland's entry into the European Union at the beginning of the 1995 has changed the meanings of this boundary still further, since it is now the only border between the EU and Russia. This fact has given it new functions and meanings that actually operate on spatial scales larger and smaller than the state. The former is accentuated by the forecasts of those Finnish social scientists who claim that during the next decade Europe will be a federal state and that the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is the first step in that direction. This would imply a very radical change in the territoriality of the state. On the other hand, concrete cross-border spatial planning and development projects are now occurring on a sub-state scale, which again 'transcends' the former territorial exclusiveness of the border.32



Boundaries as Knowledge, Narratives and Institutions It was Gottmann who pointed out that political and economic interests are combined in a complex way to form a trilogy of territory, population and governmental organisation, and he reminded us at the same time of the power of symbolism, values, beliefs and ethics.33 This indicates the point of departure selected for the present paper: that states continue to play a significant role in the popular politics of place-making and in the creation of naturalised links between places and people.34 Boundaries are therefore not merely lines on the ground but, above all, manifestations of social practice and discourse. The construction of the meanings of communities and their boundaries occurs through narratives: 'stories' that provide people with common experiences, history and memories, and thereby bind these people together. Narratives should not be comprehended only as modes of representation but also as discourses that crucially shape social practice and life. Somers points out how social life is commonly 'storied'.35 A narrative is for her an ontological condition of social life: it is through narrativity that people come to know, understand and make sense of the social world, and it is through narratives that they constitute social identities. Somers and Gibson write that all people come to be what they are by locating themselves in social narratives, which are rarely of their own making.36 This is particularly the case with separate generations, which may differ greatly as far as their collective experiences are concerned.37 Great importance, therefore, has to be attached to public narratives associated with cultural and institutional formations and inter-subjective networks and institutions. From the perspective of this paper, it is narratives connected with the institutions of nation, state and territory that are of vital importance. These are typically linked with ontological narratives - stories that actors use to make sense of their lives as members of social collectives and to define who 'we' are. Boundaries between 'us' and 'others' are critical elements in establishing 'us' and excluding 'others'. Boundaries are therefore one specific form of institution.38 The major function of institutions is perhaps to establish stable structures for human interaction and thus to reduce uncertainty and increase ontological security, but they can vary greatly in nature. As North points out, formal rules in a society may change rapidly as a consequence of political or judicial decisions, but informal constraints embedded in customs, traditions and codes of conduct are usually considerably more impervious to deliberate policies.39 All institutions are perpetually developing and being transformed, however, and the boundaries of territorial communities and the narratives constitutive of collective identities are also constantly changing.40 Ashley remarks that the important question is not where a boundary is,



but how, by what practices and in the face of what resistances, this boundary was imposed and ritualised.41 This is a strong and somewhat 'nongeographical' argument. We should perhaps point out - as Giddens does that while borders are in principle nothing more than lines drawn to demarcate the sovereignty of states, their location may be significant for the fortunes of states in the event of territorial disputes.42 This is the case also with the history and symbolic meanings of boundaries and how these manifest themselves in the territorial identities of the inhabitants of states and in the iconographies of states. This means that we should understand boundaries more broadly than traditional studies suggest. A boundary does not exist only in the border area, but it manifests itself in many institutions such as education, the media, novels, memorials, ceremonies and spectacles, etc. These are effective expressions of narratives linked with boundaries and border conflicts and serve as references to the Other. These mediums are also the essence of the institutionalisation of the border symbolism and perform the key functions of symbolism; that is, social control and communication.43 As far as nationalism is concerned, particularly challenging objects of research are the practices and discourses that territorialise memory and transform it as part of the civil religion.44 The latter is important in the spatial socialisation process of the citizens and occurs most effectively in education. Education in geography and history in particular typically produces and reproduces the iconography of boundaries; that is, the symbols that essentially construct the history and meanings of a territory. This iconography forms an entity that can be scrutinised using many types of concrete material, since boundaries exist in various practices and discourses: in politics, administration, economics, culture or the organisation of ethnic relations. These have both material and textual manifestations (newspapers, books, drawings, paintings, songs, poems, various memorials and monuments, etc.), which reveal and strengthen the material and symbolic elements of historical continuity in human consciousness. Particularly challenging objects of research are maps, which are often the results of deeply institutionalised practices of power and representation. Geography is therefore exploited in many senses in these boundary producing practices.45 The construction of identity narratives is a contested political process and part of the distribution of social power in society. 'Struggles over narrations are thus struggles over identity', write Somers and Gibson.46 The narrative constitution of identities points to the fact that language is a fundamental element in the nature of identity, where language is understood broadly as including other language-like systems which mean, represent or symbolise something 'beyond themselves'.47 This is the case with most



national symbols and the iconography that is used to communicate territoriality and boundaries. As Smith remarks, 'the boundaries of nations and national states may be determined by military, economic and political factors, but their significance for their inhabitants derives from the joys and sufferings associated with a particular ethnoscape',48 i.e. ethnic landscape. This has become obvious all over the world in places where various minorities have began to raise their voice and where the dominating majorities have aimed at keeping their control in the definition of the relations between physical and social spaces. Boundary narratives have to be examined in connection with broader national and state narratives. In Finland, for instance, the border with Russia has been an indispensable part of many state narratives since the gaining of independence (e.g. national identity, or links with the West), and it also has a number of material and symbolic manifestations which differ radically from Finland's other borders; that is, with Sweden and Norway. Even though the Soviet collapse has radically altered the roles of the FinnishRussian border and a total of 26 crossing points over the border have now been opened - six of them to international traffic - the border landscape still includes a strictly controlled frontier zone which can be entered only with special permission (Figure 1). This zone was established after the Second World War on the Finnish-Russian border, but no corresponding arrangement exists on the Swedish or Norwegian border.49 While as many as four million Finns and Russians per year cross the border at present, and goods traffic is increasing, a similar, very effective border patrol system still exists as during the Soviet period, and new, increasingly technical, surveillance mechanisms are being introduced. New electronic monitoring systems have been installed which permit more effective governance and control of space. In spite of the increasing flows of people and goods, very much the same system of border signs still exists, including material and symbolic elements from watchtowers, customs houses and flags to barbed wire and uniforms.50 Most these elements are lacking on the Swedish and Norwegian borders. All this means that the de-territorialisation of the Finnish-Russian border has occurred in discrepant ways and in the context of different social practices. In some practices the border is still largely a closed one and territoriality as control over space is effectively enforced. Customs operations and control over migrants and refugees are very effective; i.e. although the flow of people has radically increased, control over who these people are has also increased. On the other hand, numerous cross-border planning projects, partly established with the support of EU structural funds, indicate that the formerly almost totally closed border is relatively open in these areas of activity. The Finnish-Russian border is among the






O International International in the future — Temporary










largest thresholds in the world as far as standards of living are concerned, and both of the these strategies aim at controlling and governing the situation in the border area.51 Territorial power and control manifest themselves not only in the border landscape but also in places, practices and discourses in which violence, the possibility for violence or memories of violence are implicitly or explicitly present. Typical examples include such elements as national armies, memorials to the Unknown Soldier and military cemeteries in general, military parades, days on which flags are flown, etc. Border landscapes and border guard systems are thus only one manifestation of boundaries, although they may, of course, be of crucial importance. Battlefields in particular, which are typically located near border areas, are often significant sites of territorialised memory, and these may occupy a pivotal position in the national iconography.52 All these elements have deep institutional roots. In principle, all of them are connected with the idea of offering or preparing to offer oneself in war for a collective ideal that is greater than the individual, and they form one part of the moralising aspect of the state which Ejnile Durkheim, for example, saw as one of its major functions.53 As Gottmann has pointed out, the principle of dying for one's country was already accepted in some parts of Western Europe by the fifteenth century, as was the link between the defence of a country, a specific piece of territory, and the defence of a faith.54 This idea is still deeply embodied in military and religious practices that effectively symbolise, produce and reproduce territoriality and boundaries, endowing them with a transcendental aura. In many states — as in Finland or Israel - the national army, linked to a religious rhetoric, has a fundamental role in national socialisation.55 The narratives attached to boundaries change perpetually along with developments in interterritorial socio-political relations and the internal relations within specific states. One challenge is to study the changing interpretations given to boundaries and how these express inter-state ideologies and links with the international geopolitical landscape. This approach is inevitably historical and non-essentialist: territoriality, boundaries and identities should not be understood as something primordial but rather situational and contextual.5'' The Finnish-Russian border provides a fitting example of this contextuality. The meanings of the border have always been historically contingent and contextual, and these meanings have gained varied forms in social actions. While the border is still strictly controlled, the previous forms of territoriality have been changing since the Soviet collapse, indicating de-territorialisation of the border, so that Russia is partly excluded from these new territorialisations and partly included in them.



Territorial discourses and practices at the state level are now diverging. In the broader context, territorial Finland is part of western Europe and the EU (and now also the forthcoming EMU zone) and speculations on possible NATO membership occupy a significant position in current Finnish society, all of which in a sense constructs an exclusive border between Finland and Russia. On the other hand, Finland has been very active in the EU context in opening links with Russia and including that country in a larger European space. Finland was particularly active in efforts to have Russia accepted as a member of the Council of Europe. Similarly, current efforts to develop a Northern Dimension in European Union policy have the same aim: to create economic links, particularly with north-western Russian, in order to prevent environmental problems and to integrate Russia into the larger European space. These links are therefore not merely economic ones but also deep reflections of the aims of security policy elites.57 In spite of the still strict territorial control maintained at the border, the new spatial planning practices established by the Finnish and Russian authorities are producing new regionalisations that span this border. Thus the border region is now divided into four development zones, Southern Finland-St. Petersburg, Karelia, Arkhangelsk and Barents, each of which has its own problems and its own planning strategies based on cross-border co-operation. Increasing cross-border links are not looked on favourably everywhere. There has been deep scepticism in the Baltic countries, notably Estonia and Latvia, where the Finns are accused of 'unscrupulous efforts to consider only Finnish interests', intrigues with the Americans and attempts to capture transport contracts with Russia. The Finnish perspective is completely opposite. Boundaries and the Construction of Identity Boundaries are both symbols and institutions that simultaneously produce distinctions between social groups and are produced by them. Nevertheless, they not only separate groups and social communities from each other but also mediate contacts between them. As Mach states, borders provide normative patterns that regulate and direct interactions between members of social groups, rules on how to cross boundaries and rules governing the exchange of people, goods and symbolic messages.58 As symbols, boundaries are mediums and instruments of social control and the communication and construction of meanings and identities.59 As institutions, they link the past, present and future together, i.e. they construct a continuity for social interaction. This makes the links between boundaries, nationalism and identity particularly strong. Since identity - or the representation of identity - is achieved through the inscription of boundaries, the question of power is essential. Cultural researchers in



particular have studied the struggles and symbolic links between social groups, and this question is becoming an increasingly challenging one in a world of voluntary and forced movement and exile.60 Barth, for instance, puts more emphasis on boundaries than on identity, since the classifications constituting the grounds for identity mean in fact the construction of boundaries.61 Calhoun points out that although the concern for distinction may be universal, identities themselves are not.62 Neither are they freefloating. Collective identity is not generated naturally but is socially constructed and produced by the social construction of boundaries. The meanings of boundaries are thus underlined by the fact that identities are produced through these boundaries. They become part of collective identities, shared memories and the sense of continuity between generations. Identities are often represented in terms of a difference between Us and the Other, rather than being something essentialist or intrinsic to a certain group of people.63 While identity is based on differentiation, this should not inevitably take the form of opposition, of drawing a hard boundary between 'us' and 'them'.64 This has been the case, however, in many realist international relations studies, in political geography, and more importantly, in the operation of contemporary states. It should now be evident that boundaries are not 'constants' but mean different things for different actors and in different contexts. The production of boundaries is linked effectively with the social and spatial division of labour, the control of resources and social differentiation. Military leaders and statesmen all produce representations and visions of the meanings of boundaries, and these are all historically contingent. How does this take place? Eisenstadt and Giesen claim that constructing boundaries and demarcating realms presupposes symbolic codes of distinction. They argue that the core of all codes of collective identity is formed by a distinction between 'us' and 'others'. Identity codes are linked in discourses with other social and cultural distinctions such as sacred-profane, centre-periphery, past-present-future or inside-outside.65 Recent studies on the construction of foreign policy discourses, understanding them as boundary-producing practices developed by the state, provide one interesting approach. Campbell, for instance, has examined the relations between identity and difference and how they are exploited in the construction of threats in foreign policy discourses. The representations of threats serve in turn to secure the boundaries of a state's identity.66 The Finnish-Russian border illustrates Campbell's argument. The Soviet Union was the Other for the Finns, and before the Second World War this image held good both at the political level and in the national process of socialisation. After the war, Finnish foreign policy towards the Soviet Union was very cautious, and both the official 'geopolitical truths' and, for



example, the representations of Finland's huge neighbour in national socialisation - school textbooks - became much more neutral. The boundary-mediated interpretations of the geopolitical context thus changed radically. This example illustrates why it is of great importance to examine how state boundaries become a part of the everyday life and the (contested) identity narratives existing in a state. This also makes it possible to understand why various generations living in the same spatial context may have quite different identities - they simply have different spatialised memories.67 Therefore, as far as spatial identities, memory and experience are concerned, territoriality is never a static phenomenon but rather one that is perpetually changing. Boundaries and Power Boundaries are expressions of power relations. As institutions, they embody implicit or explicit norms and values and legal and moral codes. They are hence constitutive of social action and may be both obstacles and sources of motivation. The Finnish-Russian border is a good example of this duality. During the Soviet period the border areas on both the Finnish and the Soviet side became typical examples of alienated borderlands, peripheral areas where all links were directed towards their own national centres. The border is the same today, and border patrolling practices are still very strict, but since the collapse of the Soviet Union the border has no longer been a serious obstacle to co-operation, which now takes place across it in forms varying from environmental to cultural and from economic to regional planning projects.68 The arguments of (postmodern) globalisation theorists and the representatives of IR make out that the spatiality or geographical organisation of power is not merely connected with the territorial state but may also 'flow' and manifest itself on all geographical scales. Power should not be understood merely as a commodity to be wielded by agents, usually the dominant social group, in order to control all the places and localities within a given territory. Power is diffused in global networks of wealth, information and images 'which circulate and transmute in a system, of variable geometry and dematerialized geography'.69 Power 'flows' in the codes of information and in the 'images of representation around which societies organize their institutions, and people build their lives and decide their behavior'.70 Agnew notes that 'forms of power are generated, sustained and reproduced by historically and geographically specific social practices, rather than given for all time in one mode of spatial organization: that of state territoriality'.7' Power is therefore present in all relationships among people and the power of the state relies on the wide range of sources that it can tap.



What, then is 'power' in the case of boundaries? The major challenge for boundary studies is to analyze how the state-centred naturalization of space is produced and reproduced, and how the exclusions and inclusions between 'We' and 'Them' that it implies are historically constructed and shaped in relation to power, various events, episodes and struggles.72 Therefore one logical object of study is geographical concepts and terms, particularly boundaries, and how they have historically functioned within national discourses. An analysis of the activities of Finnish academic geographers and geography teachers, for instance, has shown that they have done much to shape people's understanding of the national territory through their representations and conceptualisations, and that they have also effectively developed diverging concepts and categories to represent the boundary in specific ways. In a word, they have produced geopolitical scripts that have at times been put to effective use by the political and military elites of the state.73 Campbell points out that states are never finished as entities and the tension between the demands of identity and the practices that constitute it can never be completely resolved, because the nature of identity can never be fully revealed.74 Massey similarly remarks that identities are never 'pure' even though they are often represented as such.75 It is a challenging task to trace this process and to see how the purification of space takes place through the construction of exclusions and boundaries.76 Since boundaries are an expression of the power structures that exist between societies, a major challenge for boundary research is to deconstruct such power relations in the form of boundary narratives. Boundaries may therefore be comprehended as flows of power in which memories are transformed into things of the present and future. It is of vital importance to analyze how certain rituals and symbols, discourses and practices of power have emerged, taken their current shape, gained in importance, and affected political decisions. This puts the accent on a contextual, culturally and historically sensitive approach to boundary studies. Epilogue 'The rise and fall, the construction and deconstruction of various types of boundaries', Oommen writes, 'is the very story of human civilization and of contemporary social transformation'.77 This argument lends support to the key conclusion of the present paper: instead of simply accepting rhetorical comments on how boundaries are disappearing in the 'world of flows', boundary scholars should be more sensitive to the changing meanings of boundaries. They also should pay more attention to the contextual nature of boundaries and to developing approaches that are based on recent social,



political and cultural theory. Despite the effects of globalisation, changing power relations and the meanings of sovereignty, environmental problems and the post-nationality arguments of postmodern theoreticians, the state will apparently continue to be the ideal form of organisation for most nations at the turn of the millennium. This argument does not take for granted the much criticised realist viewpoint or the ideas on an anarchical world that exists outside organised states. It is based on the fact that the increasing complexity of the institutional organisation and networks of the contemporary world will continue to be mainly organised by the state in the near future. Hirst and Thompson emphasise that the state may now have less control over ideas, but it remains in control of its borders and the movements of people across them.78 A large majority of the world's people want - voluntarily or by force - to understand themselves as nations or to struggle to create their own sovereign states. It is also obvious that the majority of political, economic and military elites in the already existing states aim to maintain their state and its apparatus in order to retain or increase their own power and symbolic capital or that of their political parties or corporations. The contemporary system of states entails more than 300 land boundaries, which means that there must be more than 600 collective narratives of their meanings in national discourses and practices. These exist and are reproduced in science, art, atlases and textbooks, national symbols, monuments and rituals, norms and legislation. There must also be more than 600 nationalised or naturalised networks or constellations of power through which these boundaries become parts of national(ist) discourses, practices and rituals, and parts of processes of national socialization which aim at social integration, cultural signification and political legitimation. There must be more than 600 strategies of power, probably far more, through which narratives of boundaries will become part of the everyday practices of life on every spatial scale. Boundaries are hence one part of the 'discursive landscape' of social power, which is decisive in social control and the maintenance of social order. This landscape is not limited to border areas, but extends into society and its social and cultural practices, wherever it is produced and reproduced. This landscape usually exposes the power relations between territorial structures and aims at legitimating them. Boundaries play a dual role, reflecting both collective and individual practices, discourses and memory. The latter occur on all spatial scales and reflect the division of labour in the social construction of territoriality and its meanings. Territoriality and boundaries may be present in social and cultural practices in which power is virtually invisible. This is obvious in cases such as legislation, geography and history textbooks in education,



atlases, songs, hymns or pledges, values, norms and rituals or naturalised images of external threats and in the meanings of these for the respective identities. The boundaries of the identity of a state (or a group of states as a 'we') are typically secured by the representation of danger which is an integral part of foreign policy. All these phenomena are illustrations of the anonymous authority discussed by Fromm.79 They are examples of invisible sources of norms that constitute the discipline that frames the formation of a collective identity. It is of vital importance to note that various conceptualizations of boundaries are themselves products of diverging, contested discourses. As Massey points out, boundaries are one means of organizing social space, part of the process of p\ace-making.m This means that questions of power, knowledge, agency and social structures become decisive. State boundaries probably mean diverging, at times contrasting, things for international capitalists, military leaders or ordinary people - or for scientists coming from various states. One task is therefore to examine how they become a part of the everyday practices of life and of collective, contested identity narratives. The conceptualisation of spatial scales provides one tool for overcoming abstract dichotomies between global/local or abstract/concrete phenomena. Everyday life does not consist only of a local context but also of national socialisation (knowledge, values, rituals, memory) and participation in a broader division of labour and a struggle over meanings through locally embedded institutional practices. It is through these practices that the forms and rules of territorial discourses are mediated and sedimented in the practical consciousness of individuals, to become one part of their local daily routines and their social identities. All spatial scales from local to global are involved in all forms of territoriality in the contemporary world. Therefore the link between national and local identity narratives provides one prominent topic for boundary studies. Boundaries are always an important element in local action and the discourses of daily life, and in this sense they cannot be reduced to collective, historical meanings that express themselves in collective representations of national identity. At the level of local experience, national symbols become expressions of banal nationalism that are, as Billig writes, 'flagged' in daily life.81 A particularly visible role in boundary research should be assigned to education and other forms of national socialisation - which are well-known basic factors in most theories of nationalism. This is the foundation on which foreign policy and military discourses rest, and it is crucial to the understanding of how boundaries, territoriality and the nation-state are linked together. A further portentous challenge is that of searching for new conceptualizations by which to comprehend the changing meanings of



boundaries. The latest interdisciplinary literature on boundaries makes it clear that the answers to questions regarding their disappearance are not simple ones of the either-or type, because boundaries are no longer understood as physical, immovable spatial entities. The questions of context, knowledge, representation and power become crucial. Thus, in addition to empirical case studies on boundaries - which continue to be of crucial importance - researchers will also have to develop abstractions to make the multi-dimensional character of territory and boundary building 'theoretically visible'.82 This will help us to realise that traditional territoriality is increasingly turning into territorialities, i.e. more vague, overlapping spaces of dependencies and constellations of power. Hence, whereas authors like Ohmae are ready to declare the death of the nationstate and of boundaries, pointing mainly to economic practices, boundaries still make a difference in the spheres of governance (including the governance of economic flows), culture and spatial identities and will continue to provide interesting challenges for researchers in the future.

NOTES 1. D. Sibley, Geographies of Exclusion (London: Routledge, 1995), p.32. 2. Examples of more sensitive boundary studies in geography are e.g. A. Murphy (1988), 'The Regional Dynamics of Language Differentation in Belgium: a Study in Cultural-Political Geography', The University of Chicago, Geography Research Paper No.227. Chicago; D. Rumley and J. Minghi (eds.), The Geography of Borderlands (London: Routledge 1991); A. Paasi, Territories, Boundaries and Consciousness: The Changing Geographies of the Finnish-Russian Border (Chichester: John Wiley 1996); see also M. Anderson, Frontiers: Territory and State Formation in the Modern World (Cambridge: Polity Press 1996). 3. L. Greenfeld and D. Chirot, 'Nationalism and Aggression', Theory and Society 23 (1994), pp.79-130. 4. A.D. Smith, 'Culture, Community and Territory: the Politics of Ethnicity and Nationalism', International Affairs 72 (1996), pp.445-58. 5. M. Shapiro and H. Alker (eds.), Challenging Boundaries (Minneapolis: UMP 1996); M. Guibernau, Nationalisms (Cambridge: Polity Press 1996). 6. A. Murphy, 'The Sovereign State System as Political-Territorial Ideal: Historical and Contemporary Considerations', in T.J. Bierstaker and C. Weber (eds.), State Sovereignty as Social Construct (Cambridge: CUP 1996). 7. P.J. Taylor, Political Geography (Longman: London 1993). 8. J. Agnew, Transnational Liberalism and the New Geopolitics of Power, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, Toronto 20 March 1997. 9. J. Agnew, 'The Territorial Trap: the Geographical Assumptions of International Relations Theory', Review of International Political Economy, 1, (1994), pp.53-80; D. Campbell, Writing Security. United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity, (Bloomington: IUP 1992); G.ÓTuathail, Critical Geopolitics: The Politics of Writing Global Space, (London: Routledge 1996); T. Kuehls, Beyond Sovereign State (Minnesota: UMP 1996); M.J. Shapiro and H.R.Alker (note 5). 10. M.J. Shapiro, 'Introduction', in M . J . Shapiro and H. R. Alker (note 5), pp.xvi. 11. A. Paasi, 'The Political Geography of Boundaries at the End of the Millennium: Challenges of the De-Territorializing World', in H. Eskelinen, I. Liikanen and J. Oksa (eds.), Curtains of Iron and Cold. European Peripheries and New Scales of Cross-Border Interaction



13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43.


(Aldershot: Ashgate Publishers 1999); D. Newman and A. Paasi, Fences and Neighbours in the Postmodern World: Boundary Narratives in Political Geography, Progress in Human Geography 22 (1998), pp.186-207; M. Anderson (note 2); M. Anderson and E. Bort (eds.), The Frontiers of Europe (London: Pinter 1998). L. O'Dowd and T. Wilson (eds.), Borders, Nations and States (Aldershot: Avebury 1996); Anderson and E. Bort (eds.), The Frontiers of Europe (London: Pinter 1998); H. van Houtum, The Development of Cross-Border Economic Relations (Center for Economic Research, Tilburg University 1998). G. Deleuze and F. Guattari, A Thousand Plateus. Capitalism & Schizofrenia (London: Athlone Press 1988). G.ÓTuathail, 'Political Geography III: Dealing with Deterritorialization', Progress in Human Geography 22, p.82. A. Amin and N. Thrift, 'Living in the Global', in A. Amin and N. Thrift (eds.), Globalization, Institutions and Regional Development in Europe (Oxford: OUP 1994), p.2. K. Ohmae, The End of the Nation State (New York: Free Press 1995), p.11. J. Agnew (note 8). P. Hirst and G.Thompson, Globalization in Question (Cambridge: Polity Press 1996). J.Anderson, 'The Exaggerated Death of the Nation-State', in J. Anderson, C. Brook and A. Cochrane, A Global World? Re-ordering Global Space (Oxford: Open University 1995) p.67. R.D. Sack, Human Territorially (Cambridge: CUP 1986), p.1. J. Anderson, 'The Shifting Stage of Politics: New Medieval and Post-Modern Territorialities?' Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 14, pp.133-53. A. Paasi (note 2). Z. Mach, Symbols, Conflict and Identity (Albany: SUNYP 1993) p.43. O. Martinez, 'The Dynamics of Border Interaction. New Approaches to Border Analysis', in C.H. Schofield (ed.), Global Boundaries, World Boundaries, Vol.1 (London: Routledge, 1994), pp.1-15. A. Murphy (note 6). P. Taylor, 'The State as Container: Territoriality in the Modern World-System', Progress in Human Geography 18 (1994), pp.151-62. A. Paasi (note 2). O. Martinez (note 24). A. Paasi, Geographical Perspectives on Finnish National Identity, Geojournal 43 (1997), pp.41-50. A. Paasi (note 2). P. Taylor (note 26). A. Paasi, 'Boundaries as Social Practice and Discourse: The Finnish-Russian Border as an Example', Regional Studies (forthcoming). J. Gottmann, The Significance of Territory (Charlottesville: UVP 1973). A. Gupta and J. Ferguson, 'Beyond "Culture": Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference', Cultural Anthropology 7 (1992), pp.6-23. M.R. Somers, 'The Narrative Construction of Identity: a Relational and Network Approach', Theory and Society 23 (1994), pp.605-49. M.R. Somers and G.D. Gibson, 'Reclaiming the Epistemological "Other": Narrative and the Social Constitution of Identity', in C. Calhoun, (ed.). Social Theory and the Politics of Identity (Oxford: Blackwell 1994). A. Paasi (note 2). See also M. Anderson (note 2). D. North, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (Cambridge: CUP 1990), p.6 H. Bhabha (ed.), Nation and Narration (London: Routledge 1990). R. Ashley, 'Untying the Sovereign State: A Double Reading of the Anarchy Problematique', Millennium 17 (1988), pp.227-62. A. Giddens, The Nation-State and Violence (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), p.51. A. Paasi (note 2).



44. A. Gamoran, 'Civil religion in American Schools', Sociological Analysis 51 (1990), pp.235-56. 45. A.Paasi (note 2). 46. M. Somers and G.D.Gibson (note 36), p.74 47. J.R. Searle, The Construction of Social Reality (New York: Free Press 1995). 48. A. D. Smith, 'Culture, Community and Territory: the Politics of Ethnicity and Nationalism', International Affairs 72 (1996), pp.445-58. 49. A. Paasi (note 32). 50. Ibid. 51. Ibid. 52. A. Smith (note 48). 53. M. Guibernau (note 5). 54. J. Gottmann (note 33), p.35. 55. G. Falah and D. Newman, 'The Spatial Manifestation of Threat: Israelis and Palestinians Seek a 'Good' Border', Political Geography 14 (1995), pp.189-206; A. Paasi (note 29). 56. J.L. Comaroff and P.C. Stern, 'New Perspectives on Nationalism and War', Theory and Society 23 (1994), pp.35-45. 57. A. Paasi (note 32). 58. Z. Mach (note 23), p.55. 59. R. D. Sack (note 20), A. Paasi (note 2). 60. A.Bammer, Displacements: Cultural Identities in Question (Bloomington and Indianapolis: IUP, 1994). 61. F. Barth, 'Introduction', in F. Barth (ed.), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference, (London: Allen and Unwin 1969). 62. C. Calhoun, 'Social Theory and the Politics of Identity', in C. Calhoun (ed.), Social Theory and the Politics of Identity (Oxford: Blackwell 1994). 63. S.N. Eisenstadt and B. Giesen, 'The Construction of Collective Identity', Archives Europeennes de Sociologie 36 (1995), pp.72-102. 64. D. Massey, 'The Conceptualization of Place', in D. Massey and P. Jess (eds.). A Place in the World (Oxford: The Open University 1995). 65. S.N. Eisenstadt and B. Giesen (note 63). 66. D. Campbell (note 9). 67. A. Paasi (note 2). 68. A. Paasi (note 32). 69. M. Castells, The Power of Identity (Oxford: Blackwell 1997), p.359. 70. M. Castells (note 69), p.359. 71. J. Agnew (note 8), p.9. 72. A. Paasi, 'Inclusion, Exclusion and Territorial Identities: The Meanings of Boundaries in the Globalising Geopolitical Landscape', Nordisk Samhällsgeografisk Tidskrift 23 (1996), pp.3-17. 73. A. Paasi (note 2). 74. D.Campbell (note 9), p.11. 75. D. Massey (note 64). 76. D. Sibley (note 1); G. Falah and D. Newman (note 55). 77. T. K. Oommen, 'Contested Boundaries and Emerging Pluralism', International Sosiology 10 (1995), pp.251-68, p.251. 78. P. Hirst and G. Thompson (note 18). 79. E. Fromm, Escape from Freedom (New York: Holt 1994). 80. D. Massey (note 64), p.68. 81. M. Billig, Banal Nationalism (London: Sage 1995). 82. D. Newman and A. Paasi (note 11).

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