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Research Unit Borders

The RU Borders will analyse whether struggles over borders indicate an emerging split within liberal societies, as well as a possible decline of the liberal script. By addressing such tensions, the RU Borders will help SCRIPTS to contribute to research pertaining to one of the major global challenges in the 21st century and its history: global migration flows.

Borders determine who belongs to a group or society and who can be legitimately excluded. Paradoxically, the liberal script both grants the nation state the control over its borders while also constraining it from doing so, for such an act in turn contradicts the idea of personal and economic freedom and mobility.

Against this background, the Research Unit investigates three main research areas:

1. Historical and contemporary analysis of borders

How do contemporary processes of globalisation, regional integration, and technological change challenge territorial integrity and citizenship? How do contemporary challenges to the liberal script fit into the larger historical pattern of border contestations?RU Borders distinguishes different types of contestations of the border script and compares them across Western and Eastern Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as well as across time.

2. Endogenous and exogenous factors in contestation

To what extent are contestations of territorial integrity driven by endogenous dynamics or exogenous shocks? Who are the actors involved in the alternatives to the liberal script? We focus on contestants of current border regimes as well as the usage of new technologies and global networks.

3. Contestation-driven changes to liberal border script

To what extent have contestations of the liberal script led to changes to the liberal border script itself? Has increased global integration of the world yielded practices regarding borders that look(ed) alike?

Research Projects

Debating the Legitimacy of Borders: How the Admission or Refoulement of Refugees is Justified Across the World
Prof. Dr. Marianne Braig, Dr. Daniel Drewski, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gerhards, Prof. Dr. Steffen Mau

Oct 01, 2019 — Sep 30, 2022
Gender, Borders, Memory: Contestation of the Liberal Script in the Catalan Separatist Movement
Prof. Dr. Marianne Braig, Prof. Dr. Gülay Çağlar, Prof. Dr. Jessica Gienow-Hecht, Johannes Heß, Tobias Klee
Sep 01, 2020 — Aug 31, 2023
The Liberal Script in Ukraine's Contested Border Regions
Dr. Sabine von Löwis, Prof. Dr. Gwendolyn Sasse, Prof. Dr. Christian Volk
Oct 01, 2020 — Sep 30, 2023
Manly Empires: Masculinity, Border Expansion, and the Liberal Script in US-German-Japanese Relations, 1868-1914
Prof. Dr. Jessica Gienow-Hecht, Maximilian Klose
Jun 01, 2021 — Dec 31, 2021