Borders and Border Walls, a New Era? (In)security, Symbolism, Vulnerabilities

International conference organized by the Raoul-Dandurand Chair at University of Québec in Montreal
September 27 and 28, 2018 – Montréal, Québec, Canada

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world seemed to have reinvented itself. Europe as a whole converged to the Brandebourg door; Germany would be reunified, nations, liberated from the Cold War tensions, were to be able to self-determine their destiny. The 1990s arrived along with an idea of sustainable worldwide peace where individuals would prevail States, sovereignties would be obsolete and borders, irrelevant. But in a world defined by globalization, the events of September 11, 2001 redefined the world order: border walls were erected at a pace that defied all predictions and historical trends. If border walls have at times allow the transformation of a battle front into a de facto border and impose a temporary peace, they are now used by States as an answer to (new) threats, real or perceived. It is now clear that walls have become a normalized response to insecurity, triggering quasi automatically a circumvention reflex, from a form of resistance through art to the digging of tunnels and smuggling stratagems. With their bodies, through their presence, migrants resist as well. Walls lead to redrawn migration routes; but they don’t deter crossings. Walls are not impermeable: there are no fortresses, solely control points, that owe much of their efficiency to their symbolic power. Often represented as way to gain security, border walls also impact daily life in the borderlands, redefining the surroundings and the lives of borderland communities, from the economic relations to the environment and wildlife. Border walls redefine borderlines around the world, sealing and hardening what used to be porous soft borders. Thus, if globalization is blurring borders, walls emphasize them.


The scientific committee is composed of :

  • Élisabeth Vallet (Raoul Dandurand Chair, UQAM – Canada)
  • Anne-Laure Amilhat-Szary (Geography, Université Joseph Fourier – France)
  • Andréanne Bissonnette (Raoul Dandurand Chair, UQAM – Canada)
  • Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly (Borders in Globalization, University of Victoria – Canada)
  • Irasema Coronado (Political Science, University of Texas at El Paso – USA)
  • Cristina Del Biaggio (Geography, Université Grenobles Alpes – France)
  • Susan Harbage Page (Women & Gender Studies, University of North Carolina – USA)
  • Reece Jones (Geography, University of Hawaii – USA)
  • Kenneth D. Madsen (Geography, The Ohio State University – USA)
  • Said Saddiki (International relations and law, Al-Ain University of Science and Technology – UAE)