Modern Languages Faculty Publications
 

Abstract

Borderlands-limned, delimited, and defined by the presence, imaginary presence, or absence of geospatial boundaries contingent upon state power have many representations. Positive and negative state sanction through rights, privileges, policing, or enforcement are often determined by a person's position with respect to such boundaries. Sometimes such boundaries, like the borders of nation-states that generally define citizenship, seem to have taken on nearly immutable fixity. The historical processes through which institutional structures accredited to these questions of space and sanction began to take their modem shape in the eighteenth century. Often, however, borderlands are more imagined than physical, more contingent upon concepts and identifications than upon fixed geospatial boundaries. Daniel T. Rodgers's expression of this polyvalent issue is clear and succinct: '"Borderlands' is a word of multiple and competing uses, some of which extend far beyond its core, geographic meanings into a general cultural metaphor." Such metaphorical borderlands, spheres of imaginary and contingent action, represent the sites of complex and multi-layered processes of institutional and self-identification like ethnicity. Any successful exploration of the relationships between nation and ethnicity must therefore reflect how the geophysical borderlands of states and institutions shade over into the conceptual and metaphorical borderlands of individual and group identities.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Source Publication

Crossing Boundaries: Ethnicity, Race, and National Belonging in a Transnational World

Version

Published Version

Publication Date

1-1-2013

First Page

301

Last Page

319

Rights

Notice: This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code).

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