Bill Ashcroft: Borders, Bordering, and the Transnation

11 October 2019

What is a border? We tend to think of borders as geographical, as outlining territory, particularly the territory of a nation. The wall and the fence appear to embody them completely. But boundaries are profoundly ideological. A border is not a thing but a practice, a practice that produces power relationships and establishes inequalities between those who are in and those who are not. Most importantly, perhaps, borders are synonymous with global capitalism and the precarity it constructs by constituting migrants as exploitable workers and individuals with low status and limited rights. Borders are both a consequence and a production of power relationships. And the process of othering on which they are based is fundamental to the fiction of identity produced within those borders. The practice of bordering answers that perennial question: ‘Who are we? ‘How else can we discover who we are than by determining who is other?’

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