Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bye-Bye Borders?

“Cause I’m a gypsy, are you coming with me? I might steal your clothes and wear them if they fit me” Shakira.

Karim H. Karim highlights important concepts regarding the nation-state and diasporas. Namely, that borders are generally fictitious, drawn around groups of people, rather than separated by physically landscapes. Containing people within these lines--or outside of them--has caused quite a commotion in recent decades: just ask someone who knows a thing or two about America’s budget deficit in regards to immigration.

However, my next example does not have to do with America, but another Western Power: France. Evidently the French, or at least Sarkozy and friends, are not big fans of the gypsies. Interesting enough, the group of Roma that were just expelled from the land of Champagne and chapeaus, are Romanian. I say interestingly enough, because the word Roma has nothing to do with being Romanian. Rather the Roma’s ancestors are from Southeast Asia, mainly India.

Circling back before I get too far off topic--expelling Roma from France is exactly what Karim indicates the Westphalian era has taught us: nation-states believe (and wield a great amount of support) that they have the rights to the land allocated to them so long as there is enough support from other nation-states. Yet, one of the agreements of many of today’s supranational organizations, take the EU for example, are border-less work permits. EU citizens can travel within the EU for, and to, work. The EU is reverting to the traditional means of travel, transportation, and survival by allowing this. And good for them.

Now, I am not taking a stance on the Roma issue (a bit tacky I know) but this post is designed to instigate a debate on whether or not our world is heading back to a border-less system, or whether more of the Roma of the world will be confined to a permanent location.


  1. I think the situation you bring up with the Roma is a great point to illustrate the concept that Karim mentions of nation-states trying to control their "borders." The question you pose is very interesting, and I agree that the EU system of work permits does indeed seem to enforce the notion of a "border-less system." I would say that media such as social networking seems to be pushing the "imaginary borders" even further, allowing countries to communicate in ways that were not possible before. However, I can't say I know for sure if the border-less system would really hold, especially in the United States.

  2. "Whether or not our world is heading back to a border-less system, or whether more of the Roma of the world will be confined to a permanent location?" An interesting question! Globalization, on the one hand, renders borders irrelevant, but on the other, it makes people more conscious about them. Nation States are here to stay despite rapid globalization, because when different cultures collide, they make people more aware of their own culture. This cultural awareness or consciousness gives people a sense of belonging to one group, different from another. Economically, globalization may be leveling, but culturally it is going to sharpen differences among the nations.
    The EU has politically, economically and geographically united a whole lot of nations (26), but culturally they are as distinct as ever.