“Border Studies Today: Seen from North America, Europe and Asia”
On 29 September 2018 with a typhoon fast approaching, the Association of Borderlands Studies – Japan (ABSj) held a workshop at Chuo University’s Surugadai Memorial Hall in Tokyo. Presided over by Professor Fuminori Kawakubo of Chuo Gakuin University, the day began with an introduction from ABSj President Professor Naomi Chi of Hokkaido University. Greeting students and scholars attending the workshop, Chi introduced ABSj’s activities as an East Asian hub for global borderlands studies, before handing over to Professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera of George Mason University in the United States, a former president of the global Association of Borderlands Studies. Correa-Cabrera delivered a provocative and engaging paper showing how representations of the US-Mexico border and those who cross it have transformed into a lurid media ‘spectacle’ during the presidency of Donald Trump. Following this, Professor Martin van der Velde of Radboud University in the Netherlands offered a complementary perspective from Europe, arguing in his paper that, despite its comparatively permeable borders, the continent counterintuitively is still characterised by immobility as Europeans largely choose not to migrate. Finally, Professor Akihiro Iwashita of Hokkaido University and Kyushu University spoke in a more light-hearted but nevertheless stimulating vein, describing a tour along and across one of Asia’s most bewitching borders, that between China and Russia. Recounting visits to previously off-limits military zones, relics of the pre-1990s Sino-Soviet Split, and new tourist attractions on both sides of the border, Iwashita’s presentation – commented upon by Ed Pulford of Hokkaido University – rounded off a stimulating afternoon of trans-continental frontier exploration.
(Ed Pulford, JSPS Postdoctoral Researcher)