chapter  4
17 Pages

Borders and bordering in Asia

WithKarin Dean

Border studies have theoretically adopted the perspective that borders are ongoing processes manifest in everyday construction, performance, circumvention, or negation of both evident and less apparent lines by a diversity of actors, and importantly, often far away from the sites of the borders. In Europe, North America, and Asia alike bordering practices are shifting away from the reliance on old-fashioned boundaries and borderlands at the edges of the state. While the study of the dis- and re-locating of borders and the multiplication of their forms, functions, and practices increasingly dominates border studies, most Asian border research continues to focus on the dynamics and interactions at physical borders, such as particular economic and cultural connections between borderland populations, their mechanisms to negotiate or circumvent the border or state presence, various tangible movements (of people and goods), or development and integration at specific border areas. It is so because the spatio-political developments related to the challenges that borders pose in Asia have been out of synchronization with those in the Global North, and so have the themes in border research. Insight from Asian borders, however, is highly important for construing the emerging border regimes as global, and particularly for reworking the general understanding of statehood and various border constellations into more inclusive concepts. A longue durée conceptual perspective vis-à-vis borders in Asia helps to see the various contemporary spatial configurations as logical, rational or pragmatic outcomes—for practical reasons but also for a dialogue with wider border studies scholarship.