Wastl-Walter, Doris (2020). Borderlands. In: International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (pp. 373-379). Elsevier 10.1016/B978-0-08-102295-5.10627-4

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Borderlands exist when two or more political, economic, and social systems—usually nation states—meet. All cross-border relations and activities are framed by international or binational treaties. The border can be a barrier, hindering and controlling cross-border activities and contacts. Borderlands can be spaces where migration and secuturization efforts often meet and collide and formal and informal precarious camps often emerge where migrants and refugees are detained. But equally daily life in the borderlands depends crucially upon the permeability of borders permitting border peoples to develop specific cross-border economic, social, and cultural cross-border activities. A special setting for such opportunities exists when there is an ethnic minority that speaks the language and is familiar with the culture of the other side. Borderlands with permeable borders are used by the local population as an integrated region for their everyday activities where they choose freely between the two nations for specific purposes. In this way, they develop an identity as border people, which can be stronger and more persistent than national identities. Borderlands are also functional spaces, where the asymmetries and differences between the neighboring states can be used for the benefit of at least one side.

Item Type:

Book Section (Encyclopedia Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Human Geography > Unit Cultural Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Human Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Wastl-Walter, Doris


900 History > 910 Geography & travel








Thomas Jürg Reist

Date Deposited:

23 Dec 2019 10:08

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:34

Publisher DOI:


Additional Information:

2nd edition

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Binational relations, Border, Border identities, Bordering practices, Borderlands, Cross-border co-operations, Everyday spaces, Functional spaces, International relations, Migration, Mobility, Normative spaces, Peace parks, Permeability of borders, Secuturization, Trans Frontier conservation areas




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