Conference organized by the Department of Ethics, Law and Politics, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
Lichtenberg-Kolleg Historic Observatory
Geismar Landstraße 11, Göttingen

This workshop examines borders as landscapes—designed spaces that are at once architectural, infrastructural, and geophysical. Border and landscape exhibit a condition 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.

‘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.

FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2019


Speaker: Prof. Deborah Cowen (University of Toronto)
Comments: Prof. Sabine Hess (University of Göttingen)
  Dr. Derek Denman (MPI-MMG)
Chair: Dr. Madeleine Elfenbein (Lichtenberg-Kolleg, University of Göttingen


Speakers: Prof. Katerina Linos (Berkeley Law, University of California)
  Sabrina Ellebrecht (Institute of Sociology, University of Freiburg)
  Dr. Charles Heller (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Chair: Prof. Ayelet Shachar (MPI-MMG)