BorderWork(s) draws together critical perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, and policy studies to explore the acts of division and demarcation — representational and material, symbolic, political-economic and cultural — that have parceled up the inhabited world into bounded communities that arrest, interrupt and/or redirect the free flow of humanity, goods, ideas, images, indeed imagination itself. In this Lab, we will investigate the human consequences of cartographic divisions (broadly conceived) and the materialization of these divisions in wall-building, both literal and virtual. Whenever frontiers change or disappear altogether, human security is affected, usually negatively. Borders that restrict human movement can prevent farmers from reaching their land or drawing water; Internet firewalls can silence reports of human rights violations; genocide can force refugees from their homelands; the walls in Belfast both perpetuate segregation and make a tentative peace possible; and massive development projects such as dam construction can wreak environmental damage across borders as well as cause forced human relocations within borders. The Lab will have specific sites of inquiry, including borders between Israel and the Occupied Territories; India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; within Northern Ireland; and between China and Tibet, among others.
BorderWork(s) is led by Claudia Koonz (History), Phil Stern (History) and Erika Weinthal (Nicholas School), with additional core faculty, including Robin Kirk (Duke Human Rights Center/International Comparative Studies), Ralph Litzinger (Cultural Anthropology) and Sumathi Ramaswamy (History). The Lab will also include other faculty with related interests as well as graduate and undergraduates.