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Introduction. The Concept of the Border and Ways to Study it

Module 6: Borders and the Borderland

Developed by

Prof. Olga Ivanishcheva

Murmansk State Humanities University, Murmansk, Russia


The purpose of the module is to provide students with the basics of Limology (concept, functions) and the changing concept of the border during the globalization era that is perceived not only as a geographical and political concept, but also as social, psychological and cultural one. The module describes the perception of Norwegian-Russian border by the Russian living in the territory of the Murmansk Region.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module, you should be able to:

1. Describe the main categories of the Limology and the main functions of a border

2. Describe the ideas of a border changing during the globalization era.

3. Explain the correlation between the concepts of identity and border


Required Reading

Viken A., Granås B., Nuseth T. (2008) Kirkenes: An Industrial Site Reinvented as a Border Town // Acta Borealia. Vol. 25. 1. Pp. 24-44.

Passi A. (1999) Boundaries as Social Practice and Discourse: The Finnish-Russian Border // Regional Studies. Vol. 33 7. Pp. 669-680.

Key Terms and Concepts


Border, borderland, boundary, frontier

Border Region

Cross-Border Region

Transnational Region

Visa-Free Regime


Borders in the Barents region (Photo P. Haugseth/UIT-The Arctic University of Norway)

Learning Materials

Introduction. The Concept of the Border and Ways to Study it

Limology is a discipline studying borders. Today the concept of the border is not only a geographical and political concept, but also a social and psychological one. Development of this concept is connected with the emergence of the state.

Border, borderland, boundary is the key English terms for the concept of the border. Meanwhile the meaning of each of the words varies. The word frontier is used quite often as well. Frontier is a zone of development; a territory with social and economic conditions defined by the process of development. Frontier as a research category isn't identical to the state border or an imagined boundary. Frontier is a zone of intercultural (intercivilizational) interaction out of established state borders.

Such terms as periphery, border-zone, border region, border policy, as well as the English terms as edge, boundary, border, borderlands, and margin are closely connected to the concept of border (see Glossary).

Borders carry out several functions. The main ones are the barrier, the contact and the filtering functions. The barrier function is one of the key characteristics of a border defined by the set of conditions and factors disturbing the cross-border interaction. The contact function is the set of conditions and factors helping the cross-border interaction, development of mutually


profitable economic and cultural connections. It is expressed in openness of national borders to let goods, people, finance, information pass. The filtering function consists in borders open for some streams (categories of people, goods), and closed for some others, i.e. the border regulates the streams to and from the territory of a country (Limology, 5, 13-15; 16)

All the approaches known explained the phenomenon of borders by political factors, handling them as a reflection of military, economic and other powers of neighboring states. State and internal borders have almost never been considered as a unified system with cultural borders.

The Finnish geographer A. Passi in the works devoted to the border between Russia (USSR) and Finland, started with the hypothesis that the value of a border for life of people can't be understood without the analysis of its role in the public consciousness, in self-identification of a person with the territories of different levels (country, region, district) and in nationalism development as one of the main forms of territorial ideology and the basis for the state construction. Passi showed how public ideas of indigenous people and its culture, safety of a state and external threats, historical myths and stereotypes influenced the attitude of people and the political elite to a certain border. In his research he managed to combine existing approaches taken from the geographical limology (Kolosov 312-313).

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1722

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