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SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July


Border/control and circulation: new perspectives and approaches in cultural anthropological border studies

Location Lossi 3, 427
Date and Start Time 03 July, 2013 at 10:30


Ullrich Kockel (Heriot-Watt University) email
Sabine Hess (Institute for Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology) email
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Short Abstract

The discourse of circulation proceeds as if we were living in a borderless world. But over recent years, we have been witnessing new re-bordering processes. The panel wants to evaluate the classical perspectives of the discipline, and to shed light on new agendas and research practices.

Long Abstract

The discourse of circulation and mobility mostly proceeds as if we were living in an increasingly borderless world. But at least over recent years, processes of de-bordering in trade and information have been accompanied by new re-bordering efforts by diverse actors. At the same time, bordered territories are re-defined through material and non-material processes of circulation. Thus it is not surprising that the international appeal of "border studies" has increased tremendously in recent years, to the point where Henk van Houtum speaks of a "border studies industry" (2009).

Therefore, the panel wants to evaluate the classical perspectives of cultural anthropological border and borderland studies with regard to recent developments in the world, and to shed light on new agendas and research practices. It will analyze the specific theoretical as well as methodological insights and approaches of cultural anthropology and its specific contribution to the interdisciplinary field of border studies. Especially recent theoretical as well as methodological debates on actor-network-theory, science and technology studies or Foucauldian approaches in political anthropology seem to offer some creative stimuli for this research field.

The ethnographic approach of cultural anthropology can significantly contribute to producing locally specific, situated knowledge which is capable of addressing these ambivalent processes of de- and re-bordering and their relation to processes of circulation and mobility. Therefore we especially welcome ethnographically grounded papers that try to reflect theoretical as well as methodological aspects of cultural anthropological approaches in the field of border and borderland studies.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Crime at the margins: the material symbiosis of smuggler and state at the Russian-Estonian border

Author: Timothy Anderson (University of Edinburgh)  email

Short Abstract

In the context of a rapidly evolving Estonian border security regime, this paper will analyse the material relationship between migrants, smugglers, and the Estonian state at the Narva-Ivangorod border crossing.

Long Abstract

Petrol, alcohol, cigarettes, and other materials are commonly smuggled between Ivangorod and Narva, and a thriving grey market in Narva ensures high profits for individuals who sell these goods on the street. Rapid FRONTEX integration and shifting citizenship policies have changed what criminality means on this border, and tightened import restrictions at Narva's border stations have provided both a heightened risk and a greater reward for those who illegally move materials into Estonia. Drawing on the work of Alfred Gell and Bruno Latour, this paper will consider materials and objects as political agents, focusing on the ways in which changing state policies of material control have shaped the Estonian borderland and altered the lives of those living within it. Drawing on my ethnographic fieldwork in Narva, I will discuss the Estonian state and the cross-border smuggler as imagined ideals that exist primarily as functions of their material interactions with each other. Moreover, I will contend that states and smugglers depend on and reinforce each other through these interactions, giving form and purpose to otherwise inarticulate categories and oppositions. Materials are an integral part of the state-making process at the border, and through them boundaries are set, citizenship is produced, and criminals are assembled.

Mobility, borders and reconstruction of territories (Mobilité, frontières et reconstruction des territoires)

Author: Irena Bokova (New Bulgarian University)  email

Short Abstract

The focus is on the creation of ties between the territory of social action and the territory of the experienced - in anthropological terms This texte develops the idea of the dynamic relations between borders and territories.

Long Abstract

The texte discusses the meaning of Bulgarian membership in the EU as experienced and perceived at regional and local level, and how people "feel Europe" in connection with the changing boundaries and the reconstruction of territories. After checkpoints were opened on the Bulgarian-Greek border in the last decade, the personal experiences from the wars, from the refugee waves and migrations that affected several generations in the past, are used as the basis for rebuilding past ties and interaction. The analysis concerns the development of a "border community" as part of hierarchically constructed spaces shared by states.The process of reconstruction of the district of Thrace as an integral whole spanning both sides of the border creates new relations with the national territory but also with the political space of the European Union. At this level, Thrace, understood as a set of significant sites and landscapes, functions as a symbol representing a larger territory with which people identify - it is part of the national state, a perception of the fatherland, yet different from a fatherland as it lies outside the country's political boundaries; it is part of Europe, in the context of the rethinking of boundaries and historical divisions.

(le texte sera présenté en francais)

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.