Tag Archives: transnational

Area Content Alert: Volume 43, Issue 3 (September 2011)

The latest issue of Area is available on Wiley Online Library

Articles

From beginnings and endings to boundaries and edges: rethinking circulation and exchange through electronic waste (pages 242–249)
Josh Lepawsky and Charles Mather

Public perceptions of jaguars Panthera onca, pumas Puma concolor and coyotes Canis latrans in El Salvador (pages 250–256)
Michael O’Neal Campbell and Maria Elena Torres Alvarado

The value of single-site ethnography in the global era: studying transnational experiences in the migrant house (pages 257–263)
Ruben Gielis

Anthropogenic soils in the Central Amazon: from categories to a continuum (pages 264–273)
James Fraser, Wenceslau Teixeira, Newton Falcão, William Woods, Johannes Lehmann and André Braga Junqueira

On Actor-Network Theory and landscape (pages 274–280)
Casey D Allen

Sinking the radio ‘pirates’: exploring British strategies of governance in the North Sea, 1964–1991 (pages 281–287)
Kimberley Peters

Changing meanings of Kyrgyzstan’s nut forests from colonial to post-Soviet times (pages 288–296)
Matthias Schmidt and Andrei Doerre

Being Angelica? Exploring individual animal geographies (pages 297–304)
Christopher Bear

The role of French, German and Spanish journals in scientific communication in international geography (pages 305–313)
Artur Bajerski

Gardens and birdwatching: recreation, environmental management and human–nature interaction in an everyday location (pages 314–319)
Paul J Cammack, Ian Convery and Heather Prince

Where music and knowledge meet: a comparison of temporary events in Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio (pages 320–326)
Robert R Klein

Local nuances in the perception of nature protection and place attachment: a tale of two parks (pages 327–335)
Saska Petrova, Martin Čihař and Stefan Bouzarovski

Actor-network theory as a reflexive tool: (inter)personal relations and relationships in the research process (pages 336–342)
Rebecca Sheehan

‘So, as you can see . . .’: some reflections on the utility of video methodologies in the study of embodied practices (pages 343–352)
Paul Simpson

Greening the campus without grass: using visual methods to understand and integrate student perspectives in campus landscape development and water sustainability planning (pages 353–361)
Lee Johnson and Heather Castleden

Participating and observing: positionality and fieldwork relations during Kenya’s post-election crisis (pages 362–368)
Veit Bachmann

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Border Abstractions: Competing Notions of Sovereignty

The Himalayas: a traditional physical boundary. New geographies have complicated political and cultural borders. Wikimedia Commons.

Benjamin Sacks

THE AMERICAN raid on Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden on Sunday, 1 May raised Islamabad’s concerns that its borders could be so easily breached by a foreign power. Washington cited Pakistan’s inability to control traffic through its borders as a factor behind the US decision not to inform the Pakistani military or the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) prior to the operation’s execution. Beyond the immediate coldness in Pakistani-American relations, however, is the broader relevance and role of boundaries in international affairs.

Physical geography defined the earliest boundaries. The first empires—including those of South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa—followed the course of rivers and hugged the sands of oceans. As civilisation moved into less-hospitable territory, Earth’s extremities became natural dividers. In the Americas, the wax and wane of the occidental mountain ranges determined the edges of the Mesoamerican civilisations. In Africa, the Sahara drew a nearly impassable barrier across the belly of the continent, fostering the development of multiple, distinct peoples. Perhaps most prominently, the Himalaya range sharply divided the Indian and Chinese civilisations from one another; even with tremendous cultural exchanges, the mountain peak-boundaries have changed little in the last two thousand years.

Political boundaries relied less on topographical geography. Products of nation-state organisation, many (but by no means all) political borders were formed from the machinations of seventeenth-, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European empires. Their efforts resulted both in regions of relative geopolitical harmony (North America) and, as documented by Ieuan Griffiths in a 1986 article, vicious instability (Africa, the Indian Subcontinent). RGS explorers and scholars have long been fascinated with how these borders came to be. In 1836, Colonel Don Juan Galindo read a paper to the Royal Geographical Society of his recent Central American travels. He classified borders along strictly political lines:

Central America comprehends the five states of Costarrica [sic], Nicaragua, Honduras, Salvador, and Guatemala, united in one federation, and whose seat of government is at the city of San Salvador, within the federal district… (121).

As well as physical boundaries:

The principal points of the boundary towards Mexico are the ruins of Palenque, the river Nojbecan in latitude 19° north, and the Rio Hondo. Towards New Granada the river Escudo of Veragua, which falls into the Caribbean sea [sic], and the river Boruca, which runs to the Pacific (121).

A similarly traditional article appeared in the May 1927 edition of The Geographical Journal. W E D Allen documented the dissolution of the Tsarist Russian ‘Vice-Royalty of the Caucasus’ in favour of the new, ‘people’s republics’ that, after a very brief period of independence, were brought under Soviet control.

But physical and political boundaries only tell a small part of the story. Transnational borders, as the name suggests, are more difficult to quantify. They cover a vast spectrum of diasporas, international organisations, historical and contemporary treaties and various attributes of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power. In 2005, John Pickles (University of North Carolina) asked how the European Union and the collapse of formal empires have radically altered continental perceptions of borders in a Schengen Agreement world. Geographers are also returning to historical movements that transcended political boundaries. Morag Bell (Loughborough University), for instance, extensively documented the rise of ethical-environmental standards across numerous borders in the last years of the nineteenth-century.

The haziness of contemporary cultural and nation-state boundaries often allows multiple border layers to overlap and contradict one another. A now famous example occurred in 1983, when the United States invaded the small Caribbean island of Grenada. Grenadian authorities protested that the invasion violated their sovereignty. The United States responded, arguing that the island’s Communist coup had endangered the lives of Americans studying there, thus threatening US borders. London also formally protested an incursion into what it saw as its own sphere of influence; Grenada is officially a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

The current row between Washington and Islamabad is similarly complex. Pakistan’s assertion of sovereignty violation is based on traditional, geopolitical boundaries. But if we look deeper, the truth is less precise. Since partition, Islamabad has enjoyed an intimate, if complicated relationship withWashington. These long-term bilateral relations permeate throughout both cultures—from Karachi’s markets to Chicago’s Diaspora community. Strong bilateral relations thus gradually bend the country’s relative boundaries with each other as trust builds. Too, the United States’ continuing role as the ‘World’s Policeman’ (and Pakistan’s official support, or at least acquiescence of that arrangement) further reshape bilateral boundaries. It is a point reviewed in Reece Jones’s (University of Hawai’i) ‘Geopolitical Boundary Narratives, the Global War on Terror and Border Fencing in India’.

W E D Allen, “New Political Boundaries in the Caucasus“, The Geographical Journal 69.5 (May, 1927): pp. 430-41.

Morag Bell, “Reshaping Boundaries: International Ethics and Environmental Consciousness in the Early Twentieth Century“, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers New Series 23.2 (Jun, 1998): pp. 151-75.

Don Juan Galindo, “On Central America“, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 6 (1836): pp. 119-35.

Ieuan Griffiths, “The Scramble for Africa: Inherited Political Boundaries“, The Geographical Journal 152.2 (Jul, 1986): pp. 204-16.

Reece Jones, “Geopolitical Boundary Narratives, the Global War on Terror and Border Fencing in India“, Transactions of the Institute for British Geographers New Series 34.3 (Jul, 2009): pp. 290-304.

John Pickles, “New Cartographies’ and the Decolonization of European Geographies“, Area 37.4 (Dec, 2005): pp. 355-64.






A different spin on immigration

By Jenny Lunn

A migrant arrives in the country every minute and the UK population will pass 70 million by 2028. To keep the population of the UK below 70 million, immigration must be reduced by 70%. These are some of the basic facts on immigration in the UK, according to MigrationWatchUK.

Unsurprisingly, immigration is one of the hot topics in the current general election campaign. Each of the parties are trying to ‘talk tough’ with different approaches to tackling it – Labour with a points-based system and an extra charge on visa applications for non-EU migrants, the Conservatives with an annual cap on numbers and a tightening of the student visa system, the Liberal Democrats with the reintroduction of entry and exit checks and a stronger National Border Force.

The political canvassing and media coverage focuses our attention on the domestic aspects of immigration. Similarly, traditional theories of migration concentrate primarily on understanding the situation in destination countries, looking at the socio-economic impacts on a national or local scale. In contrast, Lusis and Bauder’s article in Geography Compass (January 2010) calls for a wider perspective. Rather than concentrating on the domestic impact, they look at transnational scale to consider how socio-economic processes that operate at the global scale also influence the employment trajectories of immigrants.

When we hear the speeches and spin over the coming weeks, which build on a sense of threat and fear that immigration poses to the nation, we would do well to think in a different light. Think about immigration from the immigrant’s point of view. Consider the country they have come from and the economic and educational status they held there. And consider how an immigrant feels when the only employment they can secure is dirty, dangerous or degrading jobs that no one else wants to do. Consider how migrants use networks of co-nationals for advice on finding employment and coping in a different culture. But equally, consider how migrants maintain connections with their home communities.

In reality then, migration is a complex web of transnational interactions. The domestic situation is only part of the picture; a full understanding comes from understanding the various linkages, flows and connections.

Visit the MigrationWatchUK website

Read Lusis and Bauder’s article in Geography Compass