Handbook of Political Anthropology
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Handbook of Political Anthropology

Edited by Harald Wydra and Bjørn Thomassen

This Handbook engages the reader in the major debates, approaches, methodologies, and explanatory frames within political anthropology. Examining the shifting borders of a moving field of enquiry, it illustrates disciplinary paradigm shifts, the role of humans in political structures, ethnographies of the political, and global processes. Reflecting the variety of directions that surround political anthropology today, this volume will be essential reading to understanding the interactions of humans within political frames in a globalising world.
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Chapter 20: The political anthropology of borders and territory: European perspectives

Hastings Donnan, Bjørn Thomassen and Harald Wydra


This chapter outlines some main themes and perspectives that in recent decades have emerged from the anthropological scholarship on borders, boundaries and territory. They argue that borders not only frame and contain the territorial integrity of states, but also that the cultural and historical formation and shaping of borders is essential to understand how states think, behave and act. In line with the still growing ethnographic record of populations inhabiting border areas, they stress the agency of border dwellers in their negotiation of power and identity. The chapter is framed by a contextual discussion of the demise of political borders that seemingly followed the end of the Cold war and the current trend in an opposite direction, where new walls, barriers and fences are being built while old ones are being renovated and policed.

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