Essays, Featured, Trans-African
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A Border Philosophy

I was in conversation with a friend, breaking down thoughts around the question of borders.

My point of deperture was that borders are not a stand-alone entity. It does not exist in a void, though they are of themselves a void – an illusion of tangibility. they are vacuum made tangible by the pressure that ensues from the negotiation of our differences.

In one of Ursala Biemann’s film “performing the border“, the protagonist was heard saying that there will be no border if there are no “crossings”. The very notion of crossing carries within it the constituent character of a border. We can equally call this “the necessity of traversal” inherent in that which is the heartbeat of nature: movement.

A prominent feature that complicates the above deduction is that borders are also highlights of lines of associations that play the constructive role of framing entities according to their homogeneity such that a world without borders is a world of utopia that has little chance at existence.

In as much as soliciting for a borderless world is equivalent to calling for an implosion of our social formation, should we not seek to converse the permeability of these borders especially in the back drop of increasingly multifarious social formations obliged to contend with each other? Should we not begin the ardous task of learning to live with each other, not in the sense of tolerating each other, but in respecting the processes by which our differences manifest and learning also to see “different” as an inherent qualifier of any exchange?

Borders are porous. Where they are the opposite, they are ossified more by the tendency to eliminate than to elucidate. Borderlines are immediately made rigid by the need to device a formula to be applied systematically in order to arrive at a certain form of classification. They are mass produced and commodified all in the guise of rhetorics such as “progress”, “development”, “civilisation”, “industrialisation” – and always in relation to an “other”. At first this mimics expansion, but on the long run it is a congealed version of a much more  effervescent force which has lost its quality of fludity – that which is able to facilitate intersection between unlike entities.

Borders are vacuum whose tangibility are reinforced by the pressure between two things. The impact of these vacuum depends on the attitude of the two entities towards each other: They can either chose to “feed off” this vacuum thereby widening the void or decide to scale this vacuum, intertwining with each other and making this void a stage where the nuances and misconceptions of their relationship are played out.

It is therefore no wonder that governements and state authorities play the most prominent role in the construction of borders. Often times, it is the ping-pong of power between countries or group of people that manifests as these demarcations. The adverse implications nevertheless go root-deep downwards to the average person of a given society.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Exploring a Void – “The Middle Ground” | Diary of a Border-Being

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