(Un)making borders - annual workshop

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This year's BISA Colonial Postcolonial Decolonial Working Group annual workshop will take place at Queen Mary, University of London on 19 September 2018.

The question of borders is one of the most contested and urgent political issues of our time, not least for scholars working in international studies. Conventional thinking in International Relations has long understood borders as territorial demarcations that separate (and thus constitute) sovereign nation-states. Such thinking is often mirrored by those working on the colonial question, with borders seen as the dividing line between colonial possessions, postcolonial nation-states and/ or the global north and south. However, postcolonial and decolonial scholars have also challenged conventional thinking and rethought the border as an analytic rather than empirical fact. For Harsha Walia ‘border imperialism’ is a form of governance that displaces, criminalises, hierarchically differentiates and exploits the colonised. In contrast, for Gloria Anzaldua, ‘borderlands’ are embodied, forming pyscho-social terrain of transgression, hybridity and liminality that is inhabited by the colonised. Such contributions suggest that rather than fixed and immutable, borders remain conceptually and empirically sites of contestation. This workshop interrogates the contemporary meaning of borders through the analytic of the colonial question.

In particular, we welcome contributions on – but not limited to – the following themes:

  • Borders as theory/ method
  • Colonialism and contemporary border practices
  • Categorisation and racialisation
  • Transgression and liminality
  • Migrant activism/ thought
  • Indigenous border resistance
  • Indigenous border ontologies
  • Relational analyses of the border and the frontier

CPD-BISA workshops are not organised around “paper-giving”, but rather each session is introduced by a couple of five minute opening interventions.  Therefore, if you are interested in attending please do also indicate whether you would like to provide one of these five-minute interventions and, if so, on what issue area.

Places and travel funding are limited. Please indicate your interest in attending no later than 24 June 2018 to Lisa Tilley  

We will calculate participation and funding with a sensitivity to career level (phd, postdoc, faculty etc) and job type (contract, permanent etc). Please do indicate your career and job attributes when you email. 

Over the past four years, the CPD Working Group has become an established community of scholars drawn from within and beyond IR – this interdisciplinarity has enriched the work and activities of the community as a whole. Our annual workshop is our most important event and provides a vital space for early career scholars to connect with more established academics working through the colonial question in their research. As in previous years, this will be an innovative and participatory event with a range of heterodox sessions.