About the project
The research project “Elastic Borders: Rethinking the Borders of the 21st Century” is an interdisciplinary research project directed by Prof. Dr. Bilgin Ayata and is generously funded by the NOMIS Foundation. With an international team of six researchers, the project aims to develop an empirically grounded conceptual framework of elastic borders to account for the transformation of borders in the 21st century. The focus of the study are the southern external frontiers of the European Union where a high elasticity of borders can be observed. Two central research questions guide this project which are pursued in two research units. First, the project asks what kind of policies, technologies and practices enable the enactment and implementation of elastic borders; and what kind of patterns and movements of border elasticity can be observed over time and space. The second research question relates to socio-political changes resulting from elastic borders and asks if and how they transform processes of social boundary-making and social relations in the very localities across which they are extended to or retracted. How are border regions transformed by the stress of elastic bordering practices which are often introduced as exceptional or temporary measures to a particular border crisis, and how do local residents, migrants, administrative and border personnel, and humanitarian actors experience and respond to them? How does the stress of the elastic border strain relations and life on the ground?
With an innovative combination of horizontal and vertical levels of study, our research undertakes a comprehensive interdisciplinary and comparative analysis of the EU's elastic border that will capture both its breadth and depth. A team of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds work in six subprojects that are organized in two research units. Research Unit 1 proceeds at the horizontal level, taking a broader, birds-eye view on the enactment of the elastic border across the frontiers of the EU. Research Unit 2 pursues a vertical analysis, conducting in-depth ethnographies to explore the socio-political effects of elastic borders on the ground in Greece, Tunisia, and the Canary Islands.