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Boundary Formations in Migration Societies

Numerous people drown in the Mediterranean Sea, labor migrants in the Gulf states work and live under precarious conditions far from home, and others commute between Mexico and the southwest of the United States on a daily basis. These examples drastically illustrate that, worldwide, more people than ever before are willing, forced, or in the position to change their place of work and residence. However, migration is not an exclusively modern phenomenon, but has always been a key factor in processes of social transformation: The history of humanity can indeed be understood as a history of migration.

Migration produces new demarcations, which have regulative, controlling, and sometimes forcibly (violently) restrictive effects on territorial, ethnic, religious, cultural, social, economic, and linguistic levels. At the same time, migration movements and discourses problematize and change these lines of demarcation. Migration phenomena and lines of demarcation thus mutually influence each other and can be analyzed in their mutual dependency. 

It is our basic assumption that these borders – e.g., the politically prescribed territorial borders – are not just “there”, but are, on different social levels, discursively and performatively thematized by individual and collective actors. Thereby, they are continuously reproduced, changed, contested, newly defined, and can always be experienced on a material level. 

These historically and culturally situated practices of boundary formation are understood and can be analyzed as an essential factor in the creation of contexts of belonging in societies of migration.

Based on these considerations, the Summer School “Boundary Formations in Migration Societies” brings together scholars and young academics from different disciplines to analyze formation processes of (political, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, …) boundaries in contemporary and historical contexts of migration societies.

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