Governance Workshop Report

 

Central European Service for Cross-border Initiatives (CESCI) organized the closing workshop of the Governance Workshop Series. The series of workshops was launched in September 2017 and it was ended in May 2018. The series included six workshop lectures.

The first five workshops of the series were co-organized by CESCI and by the National University of Public Service (NKE) within the frames of the project KÖFOP-2.1.2 – VEKOP-15-2016-00001. Nevertheless, the sixth closing workshop was arranged only by CESCI. The guest lecturer of the last Governance Workshop was Olivier Thomas Kramsch from Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

The series of Governance Workshops aimed to analyse those topics which are linked to cross-border issues and cross-border governance, like borders, border areas, state sovereignty, cross-border cooperation and geopolitics. During the workshops, we aimed to invite those researchers who have the most influence and impact within the domain of border studies, thus introducing their opinions, hypothesis, knowledge, experience about borders and enriching the audience of the workshop.

The first workshop was held by Jean Peyrony and he presented the institutional aspects of cross-border governance from practical point of view. Professor James W. Scott was invited at the second workshop and he spoke about (de)bordering processes and the development of different forms of cross-border cooperation. Anssi Paasi spoke at the third workshop, where he underlined the issue of territorial identity and the aspects of sovereignty, borders and governance. The fourth workshop with David Newman dealt with geopolitics, international relations and with the processes of de-bordering (within the frames of globalisation) and re-bordering (as part of securitization). Katy Hayward analysed the issue of Brexit and the possible future alternatives of the Northern Ireland border and cross-border cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The closing workshop aimed to be a theoretical workshop and it approached to the issue of borders and cross-border cooperation from theoretical point of view. The lecturer presented the book ‘B/ordering space’ that was written by him and by two other prominent border scholars, namely Henk van Houtum and Wolfgang Zierhofe. In this book, the authors tried to move away from hegemonic naturalism that was dominant within the field of border studies and they introduced social constructivist lenses. Thus, borders are not seen from materialist point of view, when borders are interpreted as strict ‘lines’, rather they embody powerful and deep-going social constructions, imaginations, narrative sociabilities, clashes between us/them, ‘purification’ of space and performances. Subsequently, the introduced book profoundly distanced itself from the traditional understanding of borders, hence emphasizing the notion of ‘bordering’ and seeing the issue of borders as constant renegotiation of positions between the involved parties and between their power relations.

Kramsch

The workshop significantly dealt with two important issues, namely ‘horizon’ and ‘vanishing points’. To be more specific, political potential of horizon are spaces that have vanishing points and those vanishing points often have the potential to develop/rethink the relationshipof the Self/Other nexus.

The lecturer combined border theories with postcolonial theories and this approach was unique in comparison to other workshops. Thus, articulating strong criticism of the EU because of its strategy of conditionality and the accession process, where the new and candidate countries are object to strong power relations. They are simply objects of a neo-colonial context that places the ‘other’ always in a temporal and backward relation.

Moreover, the lecturer critically looked at the role of scholars and academics, too. To be more specific, scholars should take some responsibility instead of pure description of the misery in the world. That means they should take responsibility for their scholarship, for their thinking/writing and they should be provocative, thus pushing out border studies from its contemporary impasse and perplexity.

Governance Workshop with Olivier Thomas Kramsch was the final session of the series, but those who are interested in border issues and border studies will have a unique possibility to read all the given lectures in a written form.

Source and image source: CESCI

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