Welcome to borderlandlevant!

My name is Sigi Atteneder, I am an urbanist and architect from Austria, my blog addresses socio-spatial situations in the Levant and sets out to search for borders and relations, unfolding in urban areas. It seeks to trace notions of overlapping, folding, plural spaces in a region commonly characterised as an only side by side existence of separated, homogenised states in conflict. The thoughts presented are based on observations and experience from my fieldwork in Amman and Tel Aviv-Jaffa and part of my PhD degree, based at the Bartlett´s Development Planning Unit at University College London.

The stories raised and discussed here pick up on the concept of `borderland´. While thinking about borders underwent significant changes from mere lines on the ground (or on maps) to multidimensional spaces, most notions of borderland still see it as a space around conventional borders. By comparison, Balibar argues borderland is a “mobile equilibrium” [1] in socio-spatial terms. Hence, Borderland, in my work, represents an alternative lens for looking at geopolitical `realities´ in this contested region and beyond. It questions the seemingly fixed notion of spatial entities and emphasises their embeddedness in ongoing processes of making and re-making. This perpetual constitution of space takes place in an area of tension between deterritorialisation and territorialisation, as addressed by Deleuze & Guattari, for instance; or territoriality versus relationality, discussed by McCann & Ward, among many others. Due to the multiplicity of borders, territory becomes a `land of borders´ with no discernible centre but overlapping, folding, and intersecting spaces.

I therefore see space as constituted by narratives, stories and trajectories that constantly seek opportunities to unfold, but that are steered and controlled by various border-mechanisms. The situation of continual modification of space through shifting border regimes – borders themselves as yet other narratives, stories, trajectories – underlines the dynamics, and therefore the potential to also challenge existing power relations. I see borders as a prerequisite for relations and vice versa, as an entity can only have a relation to someone/thing outside itself. Hence, borderland, in principal, ties in with an open, relational conception of space, prominently advocated by Doreen Massey, but it also acknowledges restrictions to this openness and relationality that are, however, not exclusively found at state-borders.

borderlandlevant_amman - tel aviv-jaffa

© borderlandlevant

All rights reserved: Sigi Atteneder, 2013

[1] Balibar, E 2009, Europe as Borderland, Environment and Planning D-Society & Space 27(2), 190-215


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