Borders: a User Manual

Being cultural constructions, borders evolve and multiply with the evolution of human society. New techniques of communication or political control create new divisions, exclusions, but also new forms or resistance, escape and mobility.
The global era has been falsely imagined as a process of inevitable homogenization of humanity; in fact, in speeding up cultural dynamics, it brought about the multiplication of borders and much more intensive clashes between ‘us’ and ‘them’. The traditional vision of integrated, absolute borders inherited from the classical nation state and more so, from the Cold war seems to contribute to such misunderstanding: in the contemporary world borders tend to break up and become partial, the cultural framework being dissociated from political, the economic from the humanitarian, etc. This situation is often interpreted as a state of absolute freedom of movement, nevertheless partial restrictions are still restrictions and the migrant flows around the planet do not necessarily have more citizen’s rights than the former inhabitants of the nation-state. On the contrary: social scientists have observed that displaced people tend to have lower citizenship standards, that they are docile, ready to do anything, at any price. Part of the problem may be due to the compexifying of the world, where territories overlap, borders multiply, laws are replaced by temporary arrangements and ambiguous cultural differences.
The project consists in juxtaposing different approaches towards the proliferation of new partial borders in discussing the role of new media and virtuality, satellite communications and surveillance, human flows and the metamorphoses of the sense of belonging and identity. The label of ‘intellectual festival’ has been chosen to suggest the juxtaposition of different approaches and expressions: on one side academic discourse from the domain of social and cultural studies, on the other film and visual arts, addressing a larger audience. The geographical focus of the event will be the crossroad Balkan area, traditionally over-saturated with borders that are being reshuffled today by new forms of mobility and communications.

Ivaylo Ditchev