Understanding History is Critical to Understanding the Borderlands

to appear in BIG Policy Briefs

Edwin Hodge

Published: September 2019

Keywords: BIG, Policy Brief, Borderlands


"Understanding History  is Critical to Understanding the Borderlands"

BIG Policy Brief, Vol. 1 No. 8, September 2019

One of the central challenges to any interdiscipline study of borders is that of meaning. Each discipline involved in the study of borders, from political science to public administration to sociology, geography, history, anthropology, and law brings with it its own unique grammars, lexicons, and epistemologies. This rich tapestry of knowledge can produce exciting research, but only when they are able to at the very least understand how one another create meaning in the process of their work.

In this, the study of borders is no different. Each discipline that engages with border theory and research can offer its own unique insights, but they can also come with their own assumptions, which may conflict. While some political scientists for instance, view borders as outgrowths or manifestations of the sovereign power of the state, some sociologists and historians might instead see borders as patterns of 'claims-making' around issue of identity or culture.

When scholars of American literature examine the unique character of Puritanism in New England writing from the 19th and 18th centuries, for example, how might they discuss the effects of geo-spatial borders on its influence in Atlantic Canada, or the role the researcher's own perspectives might play in the identification of historical and linguistic patterns in borderland spaces?

BIG monthly briefings are short, and written in an accessible way in order to enable non-experts and border scholars alike to gain insight into the work that the Borders in Globalization project has done over the past few years. Each of the monthly briefings will be posted on their website as they are released to partners, stakeholders, and other interested groups. 


Publication: https://www.uvic.ca/research/centres/globalstudies/publications/index.php