BORDERS: Hybrid Imaginaries / Fractured Geographies
e-misférica / November 2006 / Volume 3.2
by Ulla Berg and Roberto Varea
While globalization pundits and scholars in the 1990s optimistically predicted the beginning of a post-national era, marking the end of the international border and of the nation-state as it had been known until then, recent world events have signaled just the opposite: the challenges posed by globalization for maintaining and ensuring sovereignty, coupled with the furious rebirth of the "security state" after 9/11, have intensified the interest of nation-states to maintain control over national borders and, in particular, over the flow of human bodies across such borders. The increase in security walls, checkpoints, sophisticated surveillance technologies, intolerance and criminalization of the cultural, religious, and political "Other," however, have luckily not been able to hinder or silence the unwavering will, necessity, or desire to "cross over" displayed by many social actors in different contexts. In tandem with attempts by powerful institutions such as colonialism, the state, and the law in setting rigid boundaries, categorizing populations, and limiting spaces for civic participation, we are witnessing a prolific imagination made immediate in the territory of the human body or in the virtual space of digital communication. This issue of e-misférica is dedicated to exploring how the lived and performed realities of trans-localism have created new global geographies and imaginaries marked not only by enduring exclusionary borders, but also by new liberating ones.
The current interest in the study of borders reflected here is not only influenced by actual changes in the world, but also by the ways in which we look at the world and approach it for analysis. Postmodern, postcolonial, and feminist critical theories have opened important "third spaces" for the questioning of dominant hierarchies and "imposed borders" based on taken-for-granted categories of race, sex, gender, and nationality. Positions claiming to speak "from the margins" or from the "colonial difference" have called attention to how borders can be productive to think with or to think from, making explicit the very politics of knowledge production. BORDERS: Hybrid Imaginaries / Fractured Geographies builds on such interdisciplinary and anti-authoritarian approaches to the study of borders. Engaging borders, in plural, from a performance perspective is particularly useful in that it allows us to look at them as produced by different performative events and expressions, as well as being represented and enacted by a multiplicity of actors. The study of borders is thus timely and valuable. Rather than witnessing the disappearence of borders, we are in fact experiencing their multiplication. New, previously unthinkable, physical, virtual, and imagined frontiers emerge all around us—not only in the Americas, but also in the rest of the world.
This issue brings together original work in different formats—essays, brief articles, performance documentation, photography, and video, as well as reviews of books, projects, and performances—by artists, scholars, and activists that address border issues from various angles, disciplines, and geographical locations. As editors, we have tried to balance the issue, selecting both scholarly and artistic work as well as activist interventions, which illuminate the various dimensions—poetic, political, and at times perverse—of borders and their crossers....