This panel analyses instances, histories, principles and dynamics of border performance as an essential vehicle for maintaining as well as adapting the old 'national' model of sovereignty to the de-bordering forces of globalization.
This panel analyses instances, histories, principles and dynamics of border performance. Despite the OAU's 1963 acceptance of the colonial boundaries of Africa as one of its founding principles, the process of bordering territory on the continent (and elsewhere) is never completed once and for all. It instead needs to be continuously performed. Yet what is performed goes beyond geo-political delimitation and assertions of sovereignty to include enactments of identity, community, relations of self and other, and narratives of inclusion and exclusion. Performing borders is always most essentially a dyadic encounter between gatekeepers and entrance seekers and often a matter of prestidigitation. In this dialogic magic show, with its illusions created through signs, symbols and portents, it is often unclear who is fooling whom; who is the magician and who the (sometimes willing, even knowing) 'dupe'. Border performances can be enactments on the stage of checkpoints and in the no-man's land involving travellers, state officials and other no less important mediators, 'service' providers, and assorted hangers-on. But they are often also "big" theatre in which neighboring states represent and play out, sometimes in dramatic fashion, their bilateral relations. Ultimately, performing borders is an essential vehicle for maintaining as well as adapting the old 'national' model of sovereignty to the de-bordering forces of globalization. We welcome written empirical and theoretical contributions that are explicitly related to the panel topic. This panel proposal emerges from the work of the African Borderlands Research Network (www.aborne.org).