Transnational Boundaries in Practice: Thwarting or Enabling Global Cooperation

Online Workshop

18th–19th March 2021, Zoom


We are witnessing a return of borders in world politics, rather than a linear realisation of the dream of a ‘borderless world’. While many territorial borders are currently related to COVID-19 restrictions and are thus likely to prove temporary, more lasting processes of border resurrection and fortification have also been in the making. Prominent contemporary examples include negotiations over the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. At a time when new borders seem to thwart the promise of global cooperation, scholars of world politics need to look more closely at the social phenomenon of which borders are a highly institutionalised and reified exemplar – that is, boundaries. In conventional understanding, boundaries are seen as instruments of exclusion and thus obstacles to global cooperation, which obstruct epistemic, cultural and economic exchange, as well as political compromise. By contrast, the overarching objective of the workshop is to explore this Janus-faced character of different transnational boundaries by asking: How do boundary practices shape global cooperation?

To address this vital question, the workshop took a relational approach to boundaries informed by practice theory developed across a range of fields, including but not limited to science and technology studies (STS), social theory and sociology, as well as International Relations.

Participation to this workshop was by invitation only.