Funded research projects led by CGTP members


'Globalization and the transformation of Europe‚Äôs borders' - final report

A seminar series/research network funded by Norface

Principal Organizer: Chris Rumford

Just published: Special issue of ‘Environment and Planning D: Society and Space' on Global borders (Guest editor: Chris Rumford) Volume 28, No.6, December 2010


Final Report on seminar series:  ‘Globalization and the Transformation of Europe’s borders ‘

Award holder: Chris Rumford, Royal Holloway, University of London

The seminar series was designed for a multi-disciplinary network of academic scholars dedicated to studying the impact of globalization on Europe’s borders from a variety of national and intellectual perspectives. The network brought together scholars with expertise in the areas of globalization and Europe’s borders, and also incorporated expertise on key related topics such as European integration, networks, cross-border communication, sub-national regions, spatial planning, and human mobilities.

The focus on borders and globalization was innovative. In Europe borders have been subject to greater transformation than other areas of political governance, yet the nature and dynamics of this transformation has been under-researched to date. Clearly the flows and mobilities associated with globalization have had a major impact on borders in Europe. However, borders have not simply been erased, as the notion of ‘borderless world’ associated with some strands of globalization thinking predicted, but they have been shifted, multiplied and diffused throughout European societies. The impact of globalization on Europe cannot be reduced to either a threat to the nation-states or an opportunity for pooling sovereignty, as in some accounts of the genesis of the post-Maastricht wave of integration. Globalization has transformed the political geography of Europe. Terms such as ‘network Europe, multi-level governance, and ‘Europe of the regions’, routinely used to describe the spaces of European integration all place the need to understand the changing nature of borders at the centre of any study of Europe and globalization. Borders are no longer simply dividing lines between nation-states: the EU regulates common European borders through its borders agency, Frontex. Borders are no longer only to be found at the margins of a polity: they are dispersed throughout society; at railway stations, airports and along motorways. Borders have been ‘re-scaled’; urban borders or regional borders have their own efficacy at the same time as national borders are designed to facilitate flows of goods and people within the internal space of the Single Market. 

The broad aims of the project were:

  • to develop networked collaboration in research and publication from a broad constituency of European partners;
  • to generate high-quality scholarly activity in a seriously under-researched aspect of European studies: the impact of globalization on Europe’s borders;
  • to reach a broad constituency of end-users through the dissemination of research outputs (publications) to academics in different disciplines and non-academic users (e.g. policy-makers, cross border activists).

 Assessed according to these aims the seminar series can be judged a success:

  • the network collaboration has yielded a range of publications, both as direct outcome of the seminar series (see below), and also as indirect outcomes; Maria Rovisco’s edited book on Cosmopolitanism in Practice (Ashgate, 2008) was published in a series edited for Ashgate by Robert Holton – an example of networked collaboration as a product of the seminar series. Several network partners (five of the original ten) are looking to continue to work together to develop the project in a new direction post-Norface. We are at present looking for sources of funding which could enable us to meet on an annual basis, and we are also looking for opportunities for collaborative research funding.
  • The publications emerging from the seminar series are detailed later in this report (section headed: ‘Publication and other outputs’). At this point it is important to note that a significant number of publications (three special issues of key journals) are in production. This is evidence of high quality scholarly activity and the special issues in question all stand to influence the border studies research agenda across a number of disciplines.

As the seminar series got under way it became obvious that academic interest in borders was on the rise. This can be seen by, for example, the launch of the COST-funded ‘East Border Network’ (PI: Sarah Green, Manchester Univ.) and associated activities, of which the Norface project is a member. A heightened academic interest in borders is also indicated by a number of special issues of journals devoted to the topic, e.g. ‘Surveillance and Society’ 5(2), and ‘Space and Polity’ 12(1). It also became apparent that a number of PhD students were writing their theses on border-related topics.

Taken together these factors help explain why the non-academic audience for the seminar series activity has not been developed in the way that was originally planned. However, I believe  that this has been compensated for to a large extent by addressing the needs of graduate students (in particular, organizing a two-day workshop in March 2010 at which graduate students could present their work to the network partners).



The funded series comprised five seminars. It should be noted that the final seminar in the series was additional to the original programme, and dedicated to postgraduate research student presentations: 

  1. ‘Globalization and borders: theorizing European transformation,’ 18th – 19th  September 2007, hosted by the Centre for Global and Transnational Politics, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
  2. 'B/Ordering Europe: the Frontier,’ 26th-27th  September 2008, hosted by Nijmegen Centre for Border Research, Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.  
  3. ‘Global dynamics of Europe's transborder regions,’ 26th-27th  May 2009, hosted by the Department of Geography, University of Oulu, Finland.
  4. ‘Borders and Mobilities,’ 25th – 26th  September 2009, hosted by the Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Denmark.
  5. ‘Bordering in a European Context,’ 29th – 30th March 2010 , hosted by the Centre for Global and Transnational Politics, Royal Holloway, University of London


Research network members

  • ·         Eiki Berg, University of Tartu, Estonia
  • ·         Klaus Eder, Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin
  • ·         Robert Holton, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
  • ·         Caterina Kinnvall, Lund University, Sweden
  • ·         Olivier Thomas Kramsch, Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • ·         Anssi Paasi, University of Oulu, Finland
  • ·         Tim Richardson, Aalborg University, Denmark
  • ·         Maria Rovisco, ISCTE-University of Lisbon, Portugal
  • ·         Chris Rumford, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
  • ·         Noralv Veggeland, Lillehammer University, Norway

Invited speakers

The seminar organizers were fortunate to be able to invite a number of leading scholars in the field of border studies (and related areas). These included: Michael Keating, Henk van Houtum, Liam O’Dowd, William Walters, Malcolm Anderson, James Sidaway, Mark B. Salter, Wendy Pullan, Bob Jessop, Nick Vaughan-Williams.


The seminar series had its own dedicated webpage which was used to advertise forthcoming events, communicate news and developments to network partners, and to record the events taking place in the seminar series.


Presentation of the scientific content of the events


Seminar 1: ‘Globalization and borders: theorizing European transformation,’ Centre for Global and Transnational Politics, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, September 18th – 19th  2007. Local Organizer: Prof. Chris Rumford


The first seminar focussed on new theoretical directions in border studies, particularly those informed by thinking about the impact of globalization on Europe, and set the scene for the seminar series that followed by highlighting key themes and perspectives in the contemporary study of borders.

Rationale: In recent years, the study of borders in Europe has been preoccupied with two key themes: (i) the need for greater security and forms of ‘rebordering’ in the wake of terrorist attack and the perception of threats posed by the mobilities of migrants, refugees, workers, traffickers, smugglers and terrorists; and (ii) a celebration of Europe san frontiers as a consequence the establishment of the Single Market. These two visions of Europe’s borders clearly exist in a state of tension: open borders create problems for securitization; closed borders diminish economic opportunities. The debate on borderless versus securitized Europe has reached an impasse, precisely because it lacks a global dimension on the transformation of borders. Globalization has had a major impact on the changing nature and dynamics of Europe’s borders, and yet the global processes at work, the societal dynamics of borders, the changing relationship between territory, borders and governance that this entails, and the political consequences of the growing diffusion, differentiation and networking of borders are little understood. The transformation of Europe’s borders provokes many important questions (which the seminar network was designed to address): how has globalization resulted not in the removal of borders (as was widely predicted) but in a Europe where borders are multiplied, new borders types of borders have emerged, and borders are increasingly differentiated (barriers to some, gateways to others)?

Thematic content

The seminar addressed a number of themes in the study of Europe’s borders and globalization: 

  • Globalization, networks and borders (Holton)
  • Understanding borders in a global context (Axford)
  • The shifting location of Europe’s external borders (Vaughan-Williams)
  • Contestations over immigration (Walters, van Houtum)
  • The enduring power of nation-state borders (O’Dowd)


The following theoretical perspectives/frameworks were represented:

  • Poststructuralism (Vaughan-Williams)
  • Network theory (Holton)
  • Governmentality (Walters)
  • Cultural globalization (Axford)
  • Historical sociology (O’Dowd)



Seminar 2: “B/Ordering Europe: the Frontier” Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen, The Netherlands  September 26-27, 2008. Local Organizer: Dr. Olivier Thomas Kramsch

Rationale: Following recent waves of eastward enlargement (10 new Central and European member states in May, 2004; Romania and Bulgaria, January, 2007), in tandem with the French and Dutch “No” votes on the Constitutional Treaty, the European Union now confronts the limits of territorial aggrandizement and has shifted focus towards the management of its newly contiguous “outside”. As embodied in new policy domains such as the European Neighborhood Initiative (ENPI), or “Wider Europe”, such a shift augurs an unprecedentedly vast and complex relationship with its external borderlands, as problems of migration and repatriation, drug- and people-trafficking, arms smuggling and other security risks must now be addressed across the length and breadth of the EU’s outer frontier rather than merely through bilateral agreement. The term “frontier” is itself historically charged, both as space of opportunity and self-reinvention, as reflected classically in Jackson Turner’s America, but also in the experience of earlier rounds of overseas European imperial expansion.  As such, the European frontier has also traditionally been a site of paradox and contradiction, a laboratory where the supposedly universal values of Enlightenment modernity and civilization founder and must be rethought anew. It is therefore apposite that this NORFACE seminar will focus on the challenges for Europe awaiting it at its outer fontier, conceived not so much as a physical dividing line separating Europe from non-Europe but as a sinuous, undulating zone of contact, resistance and unplanned hybridity from where we may be able to capture the transformation of the EU as a political project from its margins. 

Thematic content

The workshop covered a wide range of themes addressing diverse aspects of the European frontier:

  • European frontier research in academic and historical perspective (Armstrong, Tolia-Kelly)
  • European frontiers through the lens of post-structuralist theory (Sidaway)
  • European frontiers through the lens of postcolonial theory (Tolia-Kelly and Boatca)
  • European frontiers and cultural politics (Bort)
  • Setting future research agendas for the study of European frontiers (Kinnvall, Holton, Pijpers)



Seminar 3: ‘Global dynamics of Europe's transborder regions’, Oulu, Finland, 26th-27th of May in 2009. Local organizer: Prof. Anssi Paasi


The third seminar, ‘The Global dynamics of Europe's transborder regions” NORFACE seminar was organized at the Department of Geography, University of Oulu during 26th-27th  May 2009. The meeting was organized by Academy Professor Anssi Paasi and his research assistants.


The background idea for this seminar was the fact that as part of the emerging understanding of the processes of rescaling occurring in the global economy, politics and governance, it is also increasingly recognized that boundaries are not merely local products of the interfaces between states (as they have been for a long time been understood in political geography and political science). Rather they are recognized as complex institutions and symbols that are located everywhere in the society, not merely in the border areas. Borders exist at various spatial scales and they mediate social interaction, identities and forms of socialization. Rescaling of state (and borders) has become obvious all around the world but particularly in Europe where globalization and regional transformation has been modifying the regional structures of governance and economy with an increasing pace. More than 150 new regional arrangements, non-standard or ‘unusual regions’, exist in Europe. Many of them are trans-border regions that are crucial locations for these new, often contradictory tendencies. Cross-border regions are also examples of steps towards changing spatial constellations of power where local, regional, state and supra-state processes come together.


The NORFACE seminar at Oulu University concentrated on scrutinizing, how emerging global links and processes are manifesting themselves in various transborder regions, and modify these regions. It has been suggested that boundaries are unique. Therefore, a particularly significant theme for the seminar was not only what are the lessons that we can learn from various contexts, but also how can we generalize on this basis. The papers presented in this two day seminar scrutinized these issues from a versatile set of angles. Bob Jessop concentrated on Rethinking borders and border crossing in terms of the changing articulation of territories, places, scales, and networks. Michael Keating looked at the ongoing rescaling of Europe. Joe Painter discussed how regional boundaries become realized. Ngai-Ling SUM looked at the cultural political economy of border selectivities in the Case of the Pearl River Delta in Southern China. Pami Aalto scrutinized the impact of global and European energy flows on northern Europe's boundaries. The organizers and participants found the meeting very useful in expanding our understanding on the versatile roles of borders at various spatial scales. 



Seminar 4: ‘Borders and Mobilities,’ 25th – 26th  September 2009, hosted by the Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Denmark. Local organizer: Prof. Tim Richardson.

Local Organising Committee: Tim Richardson (Coordinator), Henrik Gutzon Larsen, Helen Carter, Kristian Olesen

The seminar in Aalborg, turned its focus to the regulation of mobilities, and experiences of everyday life across borders. The seminar explored the strategies being directed towards different types of borders, and the consequent practices of bordering, to explore how such differentiation is being operationalised, in terms of relational and other spatial logics, actual and potential mobilities, and territorial reconfiguration. This strategic perspective was located alongside an everyday life perspective, of how such bordering logics and practices relate to everyday practices of border crossings and living across borders. Through this investigation, the aim was to rethink the strategic positioning and actual functioning of European borders within a global networked space, in terms of producing, channelling, restricting, and facilitating differentiated mobilities.  The following keynote papers were presented:

‘‘Lines in the sand’ and the need to rethink the border studies agenda’. Chris Rumford, The Centre for Global and Transnational Politics, Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

‘Barriers, blockades and borders. Metaphors of the new mobilities regimes’. Sven Kesselring, mobil.TUM - project group mobility & transport, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

‘Governmobility in making societies’. Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University, Denmark.

‘ Integration into what and for whom? Migrants’ strategies and bordering processes.’ Unnur Dis Skaptadóttir, Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, University of Iceland, Iceland.

‘The mobility assemblage’. Mark Salter, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada.

‘Spatial discontinuities in Jerusalem and other contested cities’. Wendy Pullan, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge, UK.


A key focus of discussion was to set out current debates in border studies and mobilities studies, and to explore the connections between them. The papers, and the debate that followed, particularly emphasized the production of borders and of mobilities, through governmental and social processes. Further papers explored daily practices of living across borders, in the context of divided cities, and in the context of international labour migrants. A general conclusion was that there was scope for further work to develop richer understandings of mobilities within the field of border studies, and also to consider further how insights from borders theorization can enrich debates in the mobilities field.

A post-seminar meeting explored future network plans and possibilities for research collaboration.


Seminar 5: ‘Bordering in a European Context,’ Centre for Global and Transnational Politics, Royal Holloway, University of London, 29th – 30th March 2010. Local organizer: Prof. Chris Rumford.


This seminar was not originally scheduled but was later added to the programme. It was felt that the Norface partners would benefit from input from the cutting edge of research into borders and also that this was a good opportunity for several junior scholars (some of whom had attended earlier seminars as observers) to make a contribution to the series, their work having developed significantly over the course of the Norface programme. The seminar comprised presentations from PhD students from six Norface partner countries; the UK, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and The Netherlands. The seminar was also attended by several network partners, who chaired the sessions (Anssi Paasi, Caterina Kinnvall, Tim Richardson, Chris Rumford).


Assessment of results and future direction of the field

The seminars have resulted in extensive interdisciplinary dialogue amongst borders scholars as well as increased connectivity between the partner countries involved (including Canada), and increased visibility for a select group of postgraduate students who were able to attend the seminars (some of them attending more than one). The seminar series also allowed borders scholars to engage with scholars working in cognate fields (e.g. regional studies, post-colonialism, cultural globalization, and planning) and establish a dialogue on key aspects of border studies, thereby enlarging the potential audience for research on Europe’s borders. Exchanges between the network partners and the border scholars invited as guest speakers have been particularly productive, and have led to new initiatives being developed and new publications being generated (see below). None of these benefits are easy to quantify, but are of considerable, and hopefully lasting, importance to the network partners (and to others involved in the series).

There are also outcomes which can be more easily quantified. It is clear that some of the network partners are highly regarded in the field of border studies. Three occurrences during the lifetime of the seminar series are evidence of the profile of network partners and the significance of their ongoing work.

First, was the publication of the ‘Lines in the Sand’ “manifesto” in the journal Geopolitics (‘Lines in the sand: Towards an agenda for critical border studies’ by Noel Parker and Nick Vaughan-Williams: Geopolitics Volume 14 Number 3, 2009).  Amongst the document’s supporting signatories were three Norface partners (Rumford, Kramsch and Kinnvall) and three guest speakers from Norface seminars (Sidaway, Vaughan-Williams and van Houtum).

Second is the publication (forthcoming) of an intervention in the journal Political Sociology entitled ‘Rethinking “the border” in border studies.’ Two out of a total of five invited contributions are from Norface partners (Paasi and Rumford). A third contribution is from a guest speaker from the Norface series (Mark B. Salter).

Both of these examples demonstrate the centrality of the network partners (and invited speakers) to current debates in border studies and the relevance of the themes of the seminars to contemporary debates.

Third, Chris Rumford’s book Cosmopolitan Spaces: Europe, Globalization, Theory, written during the lifetime of the seminar series (during sabbatical leave October - December 2007) and published by Routledge in July 2008, received the Gold Award 2010 from the Association of Borderland Studies. The award citation stated that the book critically engaged ‘a wide range of literatures relevant to the debate on the social construction of borders, bordering, and border-work’ and was ‘sure to inspire considerable debate of the sort that moves the field forward’ (further details and full citation available at

Another agenda-setting outcome of the seminar series Chris Rumford’s edited special issue of the highly-ranked interdisciplinary geography journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, on the subject of ‘Global Borders’ (Vol. 28, No.6,  2010). This is a direct outcome of the Norface seminar series and stemmed from the contributions to, and discussions during, the first seminar in the series. The special issue comprises papers by several network partners (Kinnvall, Kramsch, Rovisco, Rumford) plus several guest speakers (Vaughan-Williams, Walters, van Houtum, O’Dowd). The special issue is innovative in that there are at present no publications on this topic, and the contributions all aim to throw light on how we should study borders under conditions of globalization. This edited collection is well placed to make a significant contribution to debates on border studies across many disciplines (the special issue includes contributions from geography, international relations, sociology, political science, social psychology, European studies, media studies). At least two other special issues of journals are planned on themes relating to the seminars in Aalborg and Nijmegen (see below for details). In sum, the seminar series is having considerable impact on the field of border studies, and this impact (through publications and other spin-offs) is likely to continue over the next few years.


Assessment of seminar series as funding mechanism

The seminar series structure allows for exchange of research findings and sustained and in-depth exploration of key topic in a productive and beneficial way. In my view, based on this experience, the seminar series is an excellent funding mechanism. However, the success of any series will be largely dependent upon the experience, organizational abilities, and motivation of key participants. I was fortunate in that I was able to work closely with experienced and enthusiastic colleagues at Nijmegen, Aalborg, and Oulu (Kramsch, Richardson, and Passi) and two other members of the research network were particularly supportive (Rovisco, Kinnvall).

I would say that the strengths of the seminar series as a funding mechanism as are follows:

  • Encourages the establishment of pan-European research networks (which can even extend beyond Europe) with a large number of partners. This means that the seminar series can be ambitious, extensive, and diverse. Funds can be allocated to different partners and this encourages seminars to be organized in several countries (in our case UK, The Netherlands, Denmark, and Finland). The seminar series offers flexibility: the exact number, timing, and location of seminars can be determined (to a large extent) by the participants.
  • The seminar series structure allows the organizers to build on earlier themes and discussions in subsequent seminars leading to the development of ideas in a sustained way over two or more years. It also encourages dense networking between Norface partners and also the opportunity to invite a reasonable number of key guest speakers who can bring their own expertise. The fact that the seminars are spread over a two year (or longer) period means that network partners can become familiar with other  contributors and their work, and all participants can follow up ideas, return to earlier debates, and reach considered conclusions after thorough discussion.
  • Organizing a series of seminars is a more efficient use of funding than say a one-off large conference (for all the reasons stated above), and can potentially benefit a larger group of scholars over a longer period of time.
  • The potential for ‘spin-offs’ is considerable. These include publications and other seminar and network activities, and also future collaboration on funding bids.

It would be useful, as an adjunct to the current instrument, if seminar series organizers could bid for additional resources to extend the series and/or fund pilot collaborative research which may lead to a subsequent bid for substantial funding from a national or European funding agency.


Publications and other outputs


Three publications are planned, all special issues of leading journals guest edited by network partners:


  1. A special issue of the journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, on the subject of ‘Global Borders’ (published as Vol. 28, No.6, 2010) edited by Chris Rumford. The special issue comprises papers by several network partners (Kinnvall, Kramsch, Rovisco, Rumford) plus several guest speakers (Vaughan-Williams, Walters, van Houtum, O’Dowd).
  2. A special issue of the journal Political Geography has been proposed on the topic of ‘Europe’s new political frontiers, comprising papers by network partners (Kramsch, Rumford, Kinnvall) and guest speakers at the Nijmegen seminar (Tolia-Kelly, Armstrong, van Houtum, and Bort) and edited by Olivier Kramsch.
  3. A special issue of the journal Mobilities is currently under negotiation, on the theme of ‘border-mobilities’  to be edited by Tim Richardson. The special issue will comprise papers by network partners and guest speakers at the Aalborg seminar.

Citizens and borderwork

Borderwork: citizen empowerment through bordering - a project supported by a grant from the Nuffield Foundation.

Researchers: Chris Rumford (Principle Investigator) and Anthony Cooper (Research Assistant).

Borders have been studied extensively of late, particularly in relation to the state control of immigration, and securitization post- 9/11, where emphasis is given to the ways in which borders are increasingly dispersed throughout society: at airports, along motorways, in internet cafes, at railway stations. Such bordering practises are normally associated with the state and the extent to which ordinary people can construct, shift, and dismantle borders is not acknowledged. The research will explore this neglected dimension of border studies, what we term ‘borderwork’: the ability of citizens to participate in the making of borders, and the empowerment that can result from this bordering activity. To this end, the project will map the extent of borderwork in the UK. In particular, the borderwork inspired by nationalism (e.g. recent attempts to reborder Berwick-upon-Tweed) and the ‘politics of everyday fear’ (gated communities, ‘no cold-calling zones’ and ‘citizen detectives’), new opportunities for bordering provided by transnational networks (e.g. the Cittaslow movement), and the efforts of NGOs (e.g. ‘Brides Without Borders’) to ameliorate borders.



Global borders

Globalization and the transformation of Europe’s borders

A seminar series/research network funded by Norface

Principal Organizer: Chris Rumford

The research network comprises a multi-disciplinary group of academic scholars studying the impact of globalization on Europe’s borders from a variety of national and intellectual perspectives. The network is designed to bring together scholars with expertise in the areas of globalization and Europe’s borders, and also incorporate expertise on key related topics such as European integration, networks, cross-border communication, sub-national regions, spatial planning, and human mobilities.

* Forthcoming: Special issue of ‘Environment and Planning D: Society and Space' on Global borders (Guest editor: Chris Rumford)

* Just published: Special Issue of ‘Space and Polity’ on Citizens and borderwork in contemporary Europe (Guest editor: Chris Rumford)