Precarious Borders

Panel Proposal Association for Borderlands Studies World Conference, Vienna and Budapest, July 10-14, 2018

Chairs: Sylvia Mieszkowski (University of Vienna) and Birgit Spengler (University of Bonn)


Recent humanitarian crises, refugees, indefinite detention, Brexit, and calls for ‘walls’ are drawing increasing attention to the state and status of borders in the contemporary world. Scholars have called for a reconceptualization of (human) life and identity as relational and globally embedded (Butler) or cosmopolitan (Appiah) rather than contained and sovereign, yet many nation states tend to counter a waning of state sovereignty in times of globalization with a reinforcement of national borders (cf. Brown). Such "territorialness" of law (Agamben) and its intersections with new "territorialit[ies]" produced by "global capitalism" and non-governmental organizations (Ong), place an increasing number of human beings within liminal spaces, onto thresholds and sites of "inclusive exclusion" (Agamben) and thus at the border of our attention, where the integrity of individual bodies and subjects is greatly at risk. We invite papers that explore precarious (geographical, politically significant, symbolic, psychological, collective and individual) borders and boundaries across a range of literary genres, cultural media, and time periods.


Please send paper proposals of 300 to 500 words and a short bio with contact information to Sylvia Mieszkowski ( and Birgit Spengler ( no later than September 21, 2017. We will be in touch before the September 30 deadline for individual proposals for the ABS 2018 world conference.