Keywords: borderlands, diplomacy, ethnicity, frontiers (state), geopolitics, identity, maritime boundaries, sociology of law, space, territory, symbolic politics


This article deals with the concepts of space and territoriality in law and politics seen through reflexion on borders, which are understood primarily as forms of identification and the basis for nation-building. While in the classical antiquity, borders were seen as exclusionary defensive structures, in modern international law in the 18th and 19th centuries, they became spaces for the delimitation of states sovereign territories. The author attempts to enligthen the symbolic significance of borders in modern European history, which have been connected with imperial designs, nationalist discourses and political imaginaries. Border rhetoric often emphasised territorial inclusions and exclusions relied to the concepts such as sovereignty, security and natural living space (“natural borders”). The concept of borders is also related to the understanding of the division of Earth’s surface into areas defined as regions. Regions may construct and transcend natural and political borders. Although, borders have been through world history sites of conflict, they also build ways of interconnections between locals and neighbours. The struggle over cultural and political domination and attempts to integrate and assimilate border populations were mostly reflected into deliberate linguistic policies relating to the language of administration and the public sphere. After the Second world war, the perception of borders have changed and the new understanding of borders have prevailed, based upon the idea of cooperation and the recognition of local traditions and minority rights. The principle of uti possidetis iuris was applied in order to prevent redrawing of the borders of new states and to maintain the territorial stability of the regions. But the recent migration crisis and security concerns in Europe and America have re-actualised the perception of state borders as defensive structures. Moreover, introduction of new technologies, such as ICT and the bio-metric, have transformed classical, linear forms of territorial border surveillance into mechanisms of remote control and ruling at a distance.

Author Biography

Duško Vrban, Faculty of Law, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek. Stjepana Radica 13, 31000 Osijek, Republic of Croatia

PhD, associate professor (retired)

How to Cite
Vrban, D. (2018). BORDERS AS AN INTERDISCPLINARY PROBLEM. Pravni Vjesnik, 34(1), 9-50.
Orginal scientific article