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Changing Modalities of Power in the Twenty-First Century

  • Alexander C. Diener
  • Joshua Hagen
Chapter

Abstract

Once fashionable predictions of an imminent borderless world have been questioned by recent headlines that suggest an international system very much rooted in the ideal of nation-states and their efforts to constitute distinct sovereign territories. State borders remain among the most visible features of geopolitics and useful political modalities for managing trans-border dynamics of environmental change, migration, and trade, among other issues. Rather than eliding their role, the growing interaction and interdependence between different places around the world emphasizes their significance and the way they shape, divide, and unite the world’s societies, economies, and ecosystems. Borders have never constituted absolute demarcations of group identities or unambiguously reflected spatialities of power. Their material and cartographic production nevertheless afforded them an idealized gravitas among many theorists and the general public. This chapter joins a growing literature challenging this idealization by contending that borders are, and have always been, far more than lines on a map or locations of demarcation. Their variability of porousness and the breadth of the borderlands they engender constitute not only central themes of geopolitical research but also active forces affecting people around the world. This chapter examines current international crises to explore specific lines of inquiry, research, and theory within this growing, multidisciplinary field of border studies.

Keywords

Borders China Iraq Islamic State Refugees Russia South China Sea Syria Terrorism Turkey Ukraine Sovereignty Nationalism 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.College of Arts and SciencesNorthern State UniversityAberdeenUSA

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