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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Macrosociology

The Borders of the World

The Borders of the World: Processes of De- and Rebordering in a Global Perspective (part of the CRC 1265: Re-Figuration of Space)


Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), 1/2018-12/2021


Project Coordinator: Steffen Mau

Researchers: Fabian Gülzau, Kristina Korte, Aljoscha Jacobi


The project “The Borders of the World: Processes of De- and Rebordering in a Global Perspective” (C01) is part of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1265 “Re-Figuration of Space”. In the project, Prof. Dr. Steffen Mau and colleagues analyze territorial borders between different nation-states.

In contrast to earlier assumptions of globalization literature, which expected debordering and a diminishing role of borders, the project conceptualizes borders as physical and material barriers. This conceptualization makes it possible to analyze how border infrastructures affect the appropriation of space, the organization of territoriality, and the mobility of individuals. In this perspective, rebordering and re-figuration are intertwined. The project applies a comparative perspective in order to survey the material and physical qualities of land border of nation-states. We expect that differing border configurations lead to varying relations of space and spatial stabilization.

The project aims at surveying all land borders between nation-states. A systematic typology of borders will include borders without barriers, borders with punctual controls and patrols, and those that feature significant fences and walls with barbed wire. On the basis of this taxonomy, case studies on borders that are highly fortified and militarized will be conducted. The qualitative part of the study is meant to provide in-depth insights on the factors driving the fortification and militarization of borders as well as their effect on border crossings, interactions and mobility.



  • Korte, Kristina (2020): “Who is the Animal in the Zoo?” Fencing in and Fencing out at the Hungarian-Serbian Border. A Qualitative Case Study, in: Journal of Borderland Studies.
  • Mau, Steffen (2018): Grenze, in: Müller, Hans Peter & Tilman Reitz (Eds.): Simmel-Handbuch. Begriffe, Hauptwerke, Aktualität, Berlin: Suhrkamp.



  • The Borders of the World: Processes of De- and Rebordering in a Global Perspective, Presentation at the "Workshop "DE-RE-BORD: Socio-spatial transformations in German-Polish 'interstices'. Practices of debordering and rebordering", Erkner, Leibniz-Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS), September 3/4, 2018.
  • Gülzau, Fabian Global Visa Policy & Border Protection Data. Presentation at the Workshop 'Tracking Global Population Mobilities: Conceptual, Measurement, and Analytical Challenges', Florence, European University Institute (EUI), February 26, 2018.