BorderScaping is a multimedia border-log related to my PhD research at Politecnico di Milano “BorderScaping. An explorative study on the North Moroccan/Spanish border landscapes”.
The research stems from a double fascination started since university years: from one side (political) borders as living interfaces, as inhabited landscapes; from the other, human transnational ecologies and mobilities along and across the EUropean borders, especially in the Mediterranean context.
As an architect and urban researcher I started to reflect on the potentiality of a (trans)disciplinary gaze on these two research trajectories, trying to understand what contribution spatial and design disciplines could give to the international debate. Among different trans-disciplinary conceptual and methodological perspectives emerged in the last decades, I came across the borderscapes notion, thanks to conversations with scholars and practitioners working across and on borders. The borderscapes concept has emerged – in recent years and inside different research arenas – as a powerful, critical and imaginative perspective able to address the ongoing processes of ‘shaping’ between shifting political boundaries, new forms and structures of power, local/transnational communities and their everyday border experiences. Indeed, by revealing the simultaneous coexistence of dominant landscapes of power and counter-hegemonic relational spaces of encounters, negotiations, claims, and counterclaims the borderscapes concept allows borders to be read in light of the overlapping of socio-spatial and political practices, beyond the borderline itself into a multiplicity of different and cross-scalar fields.
Recognizing the lack of a common conceptual background and a shared language inside spatial and design disciplines able to address these processes, the research aimed to understanding the productive interactions between ‘border thinking’ and ‘design thinking’ towards alternative forms of imagination for contemporary border landscapes, beyond existing geopolitical and conceptual polarisations.
From the very beginning of my PhD journey I started looking at the Moroccan / Spanish border as a meaningful scenario for a set of research operations and design explorations, as a relevant observatory of the past and ongoing re-bordering processes along and outside EUrope’s borders in the Mediterranean and in North Africa, at the intersection between different political regimes and planning systems / cultures. The observation of such processes suggested the need to reconsider the Moroccan / Spanish border landscapes as the sedimentations of political decisions in space and time and as the outcomes of different social and ‘human designs’ still ongoing and affecting the ecologies and mobilities occurring along and across the Strait of Gibraltar (See the “MA/ES” section on borderscaping).
The blog expands the exploration of artistic practices (“Border Polyptychs”), to cultural, visual and historical apparatuses and political perspectives, making a meaningful connection between border politics and border aesthetics. The blog collects images, iconographic and textual materials as a horizontal, rhizomatic and open artistic practices.
Read all the posts in the section “Borderscaping” and at www.borderscaping.tumblr.com
Appadurai, A., 1996. Modernity At Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
Brambilla, C., 2014. Exploring the Critical Potential of the Borderscapes Concept. Geopolitics 1–21 [online]. doi:10.1080/14650045.2014.884561].
Brambilla, C., Van Houtum, H., 2012. The Art of Being a “Grenzgänger”: Wandering in the Berlin Borderscapes. Agorà 28, pp. 28–31.
Brambilla, C., Laine, J., Scott, J., Bocchi, G. (Eds.), 2015. Borderscaping: Imaginations and Practices of Border Making. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Farnham.
Ferrer-Gallardo, X., Albet-Mas, A., Espiñeira, K., 2014. The borderscape of Punta Tarifa: concurrent invisibilisation practices at Europe’s ultimate peninsula. Cultural Geographies [online]. doi:10.1177/1474474014547336.
Grichting, A., 2011. From Crisis to Opportunity. The Healing Ecologies of the Cyprus Green Line. TOPOS – International Review of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design 76, pp. 18–23.
Strüver, A., 2005. Stories of the “Boring Border”: The Dutch-German Borderscape in People’s Minds. LIT Verlag Münster.
Cover image credit: Alice Buoli, Kasbah Museum, Tanger 2013.