The series consists of five thematically linked workshops in which young and established scientists from Germany, France and Luxembourg participate. The workshops each focus on a specific aspect of the analysis of Border Complexities and are intended to further develop a less noticed trend in border research.

The workshops will take place in 2019-2022 at the locations of the partner universities, four of which are located in a geographical border area. The French-German, French-Luxembourgian, German-Polish and German-Danish border locations will be used to illustrate and deepen the themes of the workshops.

Borders and spatialities between realities and imaginaries

New date: June 2 & 3, 2022
University of Lorraine, Metz

This workshop focuses on the spatial dimension of boundaries and border experiences. Increased attention is paid to the interplay between real border topographies and their symbolic construction and production. Border structures at the intersection of geographically and historically precisely locatable places on the one hand and semiotics and narratives on the other are examined, which ascribe particular meaning to border spaces or border crossings. The focus is also on intersections between open-dynamic versus closed spatial structures, contemporary forms of cross-border mobility, and dynamics of regionalization and localization under the conditions of globalization. The contributions will bring together the perspectives of geographers, historians, linguists, cultural scientists and literary scholars.

Download the programme here.


Borders as Border Complexities

Workshop, December 5/6, 2019
University of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette

Over 40 border researchers accepted the UniGR Center for Border Studies’ invitation to come to the University of Luxembourg for an international workshop. The event held on December 5th and 6th, 2019 was dedicated to an emerging development in border research and was a prelude to the two-year workshop series entitled “Border Complexities.”

The basis for the research is the finding that borders can be defined less and less by clear separating forces created by only a few actors or on the territorial periphery of national societies. In advanced border research, they are rather understood as results and crystallization points of multi-layered formations that result from the interaction of various actors, activities, bodies, objects, and knowledge. Such relational constellations, from which effects of border stabilization or destabilization arise, were discussed by the participants as “border complexities.” The goal was to develop a shared understanding of the more complex perspective on and analysis of borders.

Christian Wille (University of Luxembourg) began the first day by introducing key analytical trends in border research and presenting the outlines of a complexity shift in detail. Chiara Brambilla (University of Bergamo) delved deeper into the complexity perspective with fundamental considerations on the concept of complexity as well as with the concepts of Borderscapes and Bordertextures. Anne-Laure Amilhat Szary (Université Grenoble Alpes) then discussed the potential of the Borderities concept and, in addition to increasing multiperspectivity, advocated for the use of immersive methods. Finally, Dominik Gerst (University of Duisburg-Essen) demonstrated, using analytical examples of various forms of border complexities, suitable analytical principles that have been developed, and warned of a methodological complexism in border research.

On the second day, Norbert Cyrus (European University Viadrina) introduced the view of national borders as complex arrangements and showed how impulses from complexity theories can be made productive in border research. Then Astrid M. Fellner (Saarland University) gave insights into the application of the complexity approach with an analysis of the US-Canadian border, which was based on the technique of bordertexturing. Finally, Cécile Chamayou-Kuhn (University of Lorraine) also illustrated the potential of complexity-oriented border research by linking and deconstructing legal and literary perspectives using the example of migrant literature.

The workshop succeeded in further elaborating on the concept of complexity in connection with questions of border research, taking complexity-oriented concepts into consideration, discussing methodological questions, and dedicating itself to the practical application of the complexity perspective. The workshop showed that the examination of border complexities is just in the beginning stage and raised questions that are to be systematized and dealt with in the future.

The kick-off workshop has been funded by the Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (University of Luxembourg), the UniGR Center for Border Studies (University of Luxembourg), and the University of the Greater Region (University of Luxembourg).


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Nicole Holzapfel-Mantin (nicole.holzapfel-mantin at and Christian Wille

Logics of dis/order of Border Complexities

New date: March 18 & 19, 2021
European University Viadrina

The workshop picks up on the understanding of border complexities developed in the first workshop. Here, borders are to be regarded as processual and complex formations in connection with social orders: Borders and orders are thought together, because to draw borders means to create order – or disorder. At the same time, the relationship between border and social dis/order is ambivalent insofar as borders form the foundation of social orders, but also emerge from them. While borders stabilize orders, they also shift and question them. In the workshop, we want to take a closer look at the interwoven processes of ordering and drawing boundaries.

In terms of content, we work out the logics of the dis/orders via three central questions, which structure the course of the workshop:

  1. The question of complex actor constellations, practices and discourses of drawing boundaries and the associated logics and regulatory structures of ordering.
  2. The question of the complex tension between different orders and their borders.
  3. The question of the spaces in between or liminal spaces of boundaries and orders.

In the afternoon of March 18, 2021, we will explore in four presentations the question of complex actor constellations, practices and discourses of the drawing of boundaries as well as the logics and regulatory structures of order associated with them. This will help us to understand to what extent borders and orders are interwoven and how they are produced.

On March 19, 2021 in the morning four lectures will examine the complex tension between different orders and their boundaries. Thus, national borders and orders consist of a complex mix of social, cultural, legal, economic and knowledge-based border and order formations. In addition to the nation state with its political-territorial borders, the EU and transnational economic systems also form order-creating formations that can conflict with national rights and social orders. We want to analyse the extent to which orders and their borders exist in parallel or overlap and strengthen or weaken each other.

In the afternoon, we will to engage in four additional presentations concerning the spaces in between or liminal spaces that arise from contradictions and conflicts along different border order dynamics and – partly unintentionally – can create disorder and insecurity, but also new orders and borders.

The workshop presentations will be held in German, French and English. Simultaneous translation for German and French presentations into French and German respectively will be available.

If you are interested in participating in this online workshop, you are welcome to register with Carolin Leutloff-Grandits at

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Temporalities and change

Workshop, October 2 & 3, 2021
Organised by the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, Paris
Workshop location: Villa Vigoni, German-Italian Centre for European Excellence, Menaggio, Italy

The fourth workshop explicitly deals with the historical conditionality and historical growth of Border Complexities and thus intends giving the project a special historical depth.

Border research is currently based on a rough chronological grid that can be briefly described as follows: In the Middle Ages and early modern period, porous, scarcely marked borders dominate, which often more resemble fringes rather than lines. In the 18th century, also fueled by new methods of demarcation and border marking (surveying, cartography), the emergence of linear, clearly marked and materialized borders began, which in the 19th and 20th centuries were to become a signum of the nation states.

A far-reaching dismantling of borders, at least in material terms, currently follows this peak time of borders, at least in the Western world. That this chronology has shortcomings becomes clear when looking at the global West, where borders are now gaining new importance.

The objective of this workshop is to combine historical investigations of Border Complexities with contemporary perspectives and to find a common level of reflection. The discussions will be split up into two parts: Initially, four historical contributions will present examples of the historical transformation of different border practices. In the second part, however, traces of history in current border situations and how to deal with them will be discussed.

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Christophe Duhamelle (2018): La frontière au village. Une identité catholique allemande au temps des Lumières. Paris.

Andreas Rutz (2018): Die Beschreibung des Raums. Territoriale Grenzziehungen im Heiligen Römischen Reich. Köln, Weimar, Wien, Böhlau.

Materialities and corporalities

Workshop, December 2 and 3, 2021
European University of Flensburg

In the concluding workshop, materialities and corporalities of boundaries are in the foreground.

Border Complexities materialize through the performative interaction of discourses, activities, bodies, knowledge, which in turn can be examined separately as materiality. Interweaving these constituents allows merging of the material and the symbolic dimension and appears to be productive here. Objects, for example, should not be thought of as silent or passive participants in border (de)stabilizations, but as active and performative actors. They can have a disciplining effect, but they can also evoke acts of subversion. Bodies can also be addressed as carriers or actors of border (de)stabilizations. Through them and the corporalities linked to them, phenomena come into view that are related to media representations and classification practices, but also to phenotypic marks, biometric techniques of power or traumas.

Many of these aspects will initially be clarified and discussed on the first day by lectures on the representation of materialities and physicalities of Border Complexities in literature and subsequently in the sense of cultural spatial condensations of these. On the second day, lectures and discussions will be devoted to the digital-medial materialities and corporalities of Border Complexities.

Please download the programme here.