2019-08-02Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/21668
Phantom Borders in Eastern Europe
A New Concept for Regional Research
This paper is programmatic: it defines the concept of “phantom borders” and describes its heuristic potential. The proposed approach positions itself between structuralist methodologies that postulate stable social and cultural regional structures and deconstructive viewpoints that reject the former, while focusing on the discursive dimension of regions. The paper takes this tension as its point of departure. Viewed from a situational perspective, phantom borders are neither to be understood as immutable structures nor as purely discursive constructions, but rather as an outcome of the interaction between three interwoven levels, which are simultaneously: 1) imagined in mental maps and discourses, 2) experienced and perceived by the respective actors, and 3) shaped by everyday practices and continuously updated and implemented. Phantom borders are context sensitive. We argue that the topic of phantom borders is not only relevant for research on eastern Europe, but also for research in “new area studies” in general.
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