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Making light of borders: The case of the external EU border

Bastian A. Vollmer


The notion of borders will be questioned in this paper by depicting an ethnographic journey from which a counter-discourse emerged, a discourse that contradicts with the currently acknowledged discourses of borders. Border dis-courses are dominated by security and threat, by the meaning of the bulwark that surrounds nation states in physical, legal, political and ideational terms. Scholars have examined borders from various different perspectives and within the framework of different disciplines; academic discourses have emerged over the years (such as on securitisation), while national governments across the globe as well as the European Union (EU) attempted to seal their permeable borders. They have introduced ever more legal obstacles and enforcement measures to put their goal into practice: preserving sovereignty. The commonly acknowledged discourses on borders will not be challenged per se in its exist-ence, but empirical data will be used to demonstrate a different account of the notion of borders. This account makes light of the notion of borders as travellers followed their everyday business and dealt with the bulwark of the EU, the EU external border, with ease and amusement.


border discourses; counter-discourse; securitization; EU external border; ethnographic journey

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