• TEIN Annual Conference 2023


    This year, the annual conference of the Transfrontier Euro-Institute Network took place at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) on the German-Polish border and was integrated in the international conference “Contesting 21st Century B/Orders”. In cooperation with TEIN and the international research network Borders in Globalization (BIG), the TEIN member Viadrina Research Centre B/ORDERS IN MOTION organised this interdisciplinary conference on the occasion of its tenth anniversary. From 6 to 8 September 2023, 150 international academics and practitioners came together to discuss current issues in border research. The main topic was the question of how new forms of border demarcation are changing social orders in the 21st century and how the borders of today’s world are being shaped.

    The conference programme was structured along three thematic strands in which participants could attend panels. Current research and reflections on (1) territorial and geopolitical borders, (2) symbolic, social and discursive border demarcations, and (3) migration and borders were presented and discussed.

    The TEIN Annual Conference with its two panels was held in this framework took place on the second day of the conference and focused on the topic “21st Century B/Orders & Civil Society”. The first TEIN panel dealt with local cooperation and public services, the second with the role of civil society in border regions. These panels contained presentations from members of TEIN and BIG and were organized by the Viadrina Center B/ORDERS IN MOTION in cooperation with the Institute of Local Government Studies of the University of Potsdam.

    During the 2 ½ days of conference, participants could listen to a wide range of contributions from international and European researchers. Moreover, as part of the conference supporting program, the exhibition “Grenz-Gewalt und die Viadrina in den 1990er Jahren” (Border Violence and the Viadrina in the 1990s) gave insight into the racist and right-wing violence directly after the opening of the border between Poland and Germany.

    Programme booklet of the conference with the researchers’ and practitioners’ abstracts


    Photos: © TEIN
  • First conference day: 6 September 2023

    The conference began with an introduction and welcoming by Jan-Hendrik Passoth, Vice President of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder and Kira Kosnick, Director of the Viadrina Center B/ORDERS IN MOTION, organiser of the conference. In addition, the two co-organisers Anne Thevenet as the coordinator of TEIN and deputy director of the Euro-Institut in Kehl (Germany) and Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly from the University of Victoria, Canada and the BIG-21st Century Borders Project also welcomed the participants.


    In the afternoon, conference participants were able to attend a total of 4 panels, with two each taking place at the same time. The panels were organised along the content streams Social, symbolic and discursive B/orders and Territorial, geopolitical and material B/orders. The panels in the first stream dealt with the topics of peripherialization and peripheral selves in liminal zones of the 21st century as well as mutilingualism in vocational training: co-constructing Communicative Borderlands. The second stream included panels in which transformation processes in borderlands and border conflicts and different perspectives on negotiating territory, identities and power were discussed.

    The keynote of this first day of conference was given by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Élisabeth Vallet from the BIG – 21st Century Borders Project from the University Québec in Montreal on the question “Who Needs a Border Wall? B/Ordering Through Othering in a Post-Pandemic World”. In her very captivating lecure, she presented a decade-long study of border walls around the world and discussed the global trend of border fortification in terms of its de-structuring effects by generating more instability, as well as its defining effects, as it reshapes a global order.

  • Second conference day: 7 September 2023

    On the second day of the conference, the annual TEIN conference integrated into the conference with two panels also took place. At the same time the participants could attend two other panels in the stream dealing with social, symbolic and discursive B/orders: The speakers in the first one discussed the topic “Imagining and Contesting Future Borders”, the panel thus followed the idea of viewing border change as a prospective process. The second panel on “Border (Inter)Action” analysed the production of boundaries in concrete interactions, as well as micro-perspectives on interactions at borders and the practices which manifest borders. To this end, the contributions in this panel offered empirical analyses of border interactions, which are situated in different sociopolitical, geographical, and spatial contexts.

    Another panel on the second day of the conference in the afternoon dealt with the topic of water in terms of the material and symbolic (co)production of limits and boundaries. Under the topic “Drowned, Watered Down and Resurfaced. Forensics, Politics of Memory and Conviviality along Liquid Borders”, contributions presented empirical cases of aquatic borders – rivers, oceans and seas – and their relation with restrictive migratory policies, political violence and anthropocenic exhaustion in order to inquire into the social, cultural and affective implication of such lethal aquatic borderscapes.

    At the end of the second day of the conference, the participants could take part in a cross-border city tour in English or German to learn more about the border towns Frankfurt (Oder) and Słubice and their relationship.

  • TEIN-Panel 1: Translocal Cooperation & Public Welfare

    The first TEIN-panel, moderated by Peter Ulrich (University of Potsdam, Institute of Local Government Studies), dealt with translocal cooperation and public welfare, focusing on public welfare and the provision of civic services by public authorities in times of crisis and uncertainty. Recent crises have changed the view on the provision of basic services by public authorities and created the need to foster cross-border cooperation between municipalities and with civil society. The main questions in the panel contained the composition of public services in a cross-border manner in times of multiple crises and uncertainty.

    In the first presentation, Thorsten Ingo Schmidt (University of Potsdam, Institute of Local Government Studies) addressed the possibilities for municipalities to cooperate in the various fields of services of general interest in public and private law forms from a legal perspective. Then, Michael Frey and Rahel Alia Müller (University of Applied Sciences Kehl) discussed the legal framework for future cross-border public services by presenting recent and concrete examples, e.g. cooperation in cross border public health services (TRISAN) in the Upper Rhine Region. With a perspective on the future, the lecture furthermore illustrated interdisciplinary ways in legal and administrative sciences on how to overcome the legal dimensions of borders in the field of cross-border public services. The third presentation was given online by Nino Pfundstein (University of Kaiserslautern-Landau) about cross-border public services from a planning perspective as the provision of services of general interest lies at the core of spatial planning task. The presentation dealt with the challenges and opportunities for providing public services in border regions, where different planning cultures collide, based on findings of the research project “Linking borderlands”. Finally, Martin Unfried (Maastricht University, Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility – ITEM) gave a presentation about cross-border governance and democratic challenges. Since in certain cases, national legislation was still dominant, further European integration and harmonisation would not necessarily help and innovative instruments or organisations were needed. The presentation asked how innovative governance could go hand in hand with innovative citizens’ participation and democratic cross-border processes.

  • TEIN-Panel 2: Translocal Cooperation & Civil Society

    The second TEIN-Panel about Translocal Cooperation & Civil Society, also moderated by Peter Ulrich, discussed the current role of civil society in times disruptive shifting of b/orders in Europe and beyond. In the first presentation, Birte Wassenberg (University of Strasbourg, Science Po) presented the discussions and mental maps elaborated during focus groups of cross-border actors, which have been organized between November 2021 and February 2023 in five EU border regions within the Jean Monnet network Frontières en mouvement (FRONTEM). In the framework of FRONTEM, a platform on border perception in these five European border regions was developed, allowing to dive into the different border territories and learning about their citizens. The platform was presented by Simon Brunel from Atelier Limo who developed the platform. The second contribution by Anne Thevenet (Euro-Institut) discussed citizens’ engagement in cross-border territories. Especially in border regions and when thinking about the consequences of the pandemic and where disillusion about the European integration is too often a fact, citizens want to/need to be involved. It is thus about questions of how to rebuild trust, rethink cross-border living spaces and open new possibilities for citizen. Then, Margot Bonnafous (Euro-Institut) presented a project by the town of Kehl (Germany) and the Haguenau Association of Municipalities (France) on the topic of “Digitisation in municipalities in Germany and in France”. She therefore outlined the current state of digitisation of administration in Germany and France, summarised the results of three workshops having taken place in the project, and discussed the factors that accelerate or slow down the digitalisation of administrations

  • Third conference day: 8 September 2023

    On the last day of the conference, a total of six panels took place in the thematic streams of Social, symbolic and discursive B/orders and Migration in a B/orders perspective. The panels in the first strand dealt with the issues of “Researching Digital Borders – Taking Stock, Challenges and New Directions of Research”, “Race and Religion as Epistemic and Symbolic Borders” and “Transnational Gender Activism”. In the first panel, prominent trajectories and current challenges of research on digital borders and the datafication of European migration and border control were discussed. The second panel aimed to explore and think through academic approaches dealing with conjunctures of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Roma-racism, ‘Muslim’ Questions, the intersection of gender and sexuality with the race-religion constellation, conspiracy theories as a shared dimension of antisemitism and Islamophobia. The last panel discussed the anti-gender, anti-feminist politics imposed by different political regimes, and shed a light on how and why transnational gender activism challenges these politics.

    The panellists in the second stream presented their contributions on the topics of “Migrant Entrepreneurs and B/Order Asymmetries as a Resource”, “Forced Migrants from Ukraine: Negotiations of ‘Here and There” as well as “Language and Border Studies – Intricate Yet Underexplored Relationships”. The first panel dealt with the link between migration, material and financial cross-border flows, focusing on the meaning of borders for migrant entrepreneurs and their enterprise. Looking at choices and practices in different spaces and arenas, the second panel took stock of the ways in which displaced people from Ukraine cope with borders, boundaries, and their position in and between Ukraine, their host country, and a potential third destination. Contributions in the third panel discussed the relations between border/boundary studies and language studies and were thus aimed at deepening the understanding of the dialectical relationships between language and boundary formation.

    The conference wrapped up with a round table with Emanuel Brunet-Jailly (Univ. Victoria), Astrid Fellner (Univ. Saarland), Sabine Hess (Univ. Göttingen) and Elżbieta Opiłowska (Univ. Wrocław). The participants could follow an interesting and stimulating discussion on the topic “Contested 21st Century B/Orders: Challenges for Transnational Research”.