chapter  2
Contemporary Research Agendas in Border Studies: An Overview
ByDavid Newman
Pages 16

The study of borders has undergone a renaissance during the past two decades. From a descriptive analysis of the course and location of the lines separating states in the international system, to the study of the dynamics of the bordering process as it impacts society and space, borders have taken on a multi-dimensional meaning. No longer the exclusive domain of the geographer, cartographer or diplomat, the study of borders is discussed by sociologists, anthropologists and border practitioners, focusing on the functional significance of the bordering process as a dynamic in its own right at different social and spatial scales. Borders may signify the point or line of separation between distinct entities, separating one category from another, in some cases institutionalizing existing differences, while in other cases creating the difference where none existed previously. Contingent upon social and political conditions, borders experience processes of opening or closing, reflecting the degree to which cross-border separation or contact takes place. As borders open, so trans-border frontier regions, or borderlands, evolve, areas within which borders are crossed, the meeting of the differences takes place and, in some cases, hybridity is created. This is as true of territorial spaces in close proximity to the physical borders of the state or urban neighbourhoods, as it is of the social and cultural borderlands which interface between religious and ethnic groups, or economic categories.