BorderWork(s) draws together critical perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, and policy studies to explore the acts of division and demarcation — representational and material, symbolic, political-economic and cultural — that have parceled up the inhabited world into bounded communities that arrest, interrupt and/or redirect the free flow of humanity, goods, ideas, images, indeed imagination itself. In this Lab, we will investigate the human consequences of cartographic divisions (broadly conceived) and the materialization of these divisions in wall-building, both literal and virtual. Whenever frontiers change or disappear altogether, human security is affected, usually negatively. Borders that restrict human movement can prevent farmers from reaching their land or drawing water; Internet firewalls can silence reports of human rights violations; genocide can force refugees from their homelands; the walls in Belfast both perpetuate segregation and make a tentative peace possible; and massive development projects such as dam construction can wreak environmental damage across borders as well as cause forced human relocations within borders. The Lab will have specific sites of inquiry, including borders between Israel and the Occupied Territories; India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; within Northern Ireland; and between China and Tibet, among others.
The BorderWorks(s) lab is committed to an experimental and creative engagement with these and related themes, which, at its core, considers the inextricable and mutually reinforcing relationship amongst three major components of boundary making:
The core commitment of the Humanities Labs is to engage undergraduates in advanced research alongside faculty and graduate student mentors/collaborators. Organized around a central theme, each Lab brings together faculty and students from the humanities and other disciplines in interdisciplinary, “vertically integrated” research projects. Lab participants work in physical spaces at the Franklin Humanities Institute that are designed to foster both formal collaboration and informal exchange. Shared technological resources enable the Labs to experiment with new research methods, new lines of inquiry, and new ways of engaging with public audiences at Duke and beyond.
M apping borders, or the drawing of lines on “paper,” primarily through cartographic practices and other ways of imaging and visualizing the world. There is a reciprocal and dynamic relationship between maps, charts, globes, and other cartographic expressions and the ability to imagine and implement the division of civic and geopolitical space.
B uilding Walls, or the material manifestation of lines of division in the form of fences, walls, checkpoints, partitions, border crossings, and even virtual and digital barriers. Such divisions, so often rendered as natural and normative, raise both crucial historical concerns as well as urgent policy questions concerning human security and human rights.
Q uestioning Lines, or the ways in which these acts of dividing up the world are resisted and challenged, both through forms of representation and action. Our inquiry examines dilemmas of citizenship in a partitioned world where fundamental needs and basic human rights are challenged, sometimes on an everyday basis, by the very division of lives and livelihood.