The three-day RGS-IBG Annual International Conference attracts over 1,800 geographers from around the world.
The Chair's theme for the 2020 Annual International Conference is borders, borderlands and bordering. The theme has been selected by the Chair of conference, Professor Uma Kothari (University of Manchester, UK), in conversation with the Society's Research Groups and with the Research and Higher Education Committee.
The conference programme will include sessions and papers which engage directly with this theme, as well as others focusing on all areas of geography. For more information, please see our call for sessions, papers and posters.
Watch the video to find out more about the Chair's chosen theme.
Creating, marking, enforcing, transgressing, blurring and dismantling borders of all kinds are ceaseless, pervasive processes across time and space. A glance at a political map of the world reveals geography’s historical complicity in reinforcing a sense of a bordered world within which discrete cultures, 'natural' histories and landscapes are contained, and made symbolically manifest.
A critical exploration of borders and bordering practices is timely and salient. From the building of a new Mexico-US wall, the collection of bio-metric data in India, the establishment and dismantling of economic trade barriers and the creation of national parks that delimit human and non-human mobility, borders continue to order, classify and categorise ideas, identities, people, places, things, landscapes and the non-human. Borders are constituted in multiple ways: geological stratifications, different ecosystems, landscapes, climate change and epochs invoke physical and temporal demarcations. And, borders are multi-scalar, from the granular and the body to planetary boundaries.
Bordering processes are embedded in socio-spatial and political regimes that put borders to work, re-creating, shifting and altering them. Through a wide array of material, digital and virtual technologies, bordering practices can divide, exclude, control, govern and protect. Yet, despite policing practices and divisions, borders can be transgressed. Migrants breach national borders, as do plants and animals, and the movement and circulation of water and air render borders permeable. Inter-disciplinary endeavours equally reveal academic silos to be flexible, fluid, contested and ephemeral. Accordingly, thinking through, and displacing, borders can assist in challenging dualistic conceptions that divide humans from non-humans, the rural from the urban, land from sea and insiders from outsiders, amongst other socially constructed dualities.
Borderlands, spaces of exception on the edge and in between borders, have an indistinct quality where space can expand and contract. Their indeterminacy and shifting character may lead to intense surveillance and border patrolling to regulate movement. Yet, their liminal status has also offered conditions in which hybrid, solidaristic and transborder encounters can be forged and in which creative, cultural practices in art, music, film, literature and language can emerge.
What is the role of geography and geographers in producing knowledge and understanding about the multiple, multi-scalar and ceaselessly changing forms of environmental, physical, symbolic, smart/digital and invisible borders? How can geographers illuminate and creatively engage with borderlands? How can we interrogate the multiplicity of bordering technologies and practices that create gendered, racialised, colonised and indigenous bodies? How are the disciplinary borders of geography itself being reified, challenged and reshaped in an academic environment that increasingly promotes trans-disciplinary research? What truly progressive ideas and research can geographers develop, what actions can we take and what alternatives can we propose that challenge those borders and bordering practices that control and confine?
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