Boundaries and Identities

Gilles Rouet

Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin.  France.


Abstract: Borders, frontiers, boundaries must be studied in conjunction with their uses as well as with their representations. Ideologies and contexts have shaped the past and maps have marked territories, in the way that uses have created boundaries, in their appropriations and, eventually, in their political legitimacy. The contribution will present, at first, a very quick history of boundaries, before and after the Peace of Westphalia and the design of boundaries as part of States. Then, from a contemporary point of view, it will describe a new kind of boundaries, with the erection of walls and some consequences of this evolution. However, boundaries are certainly linked to identity processes and are necessarily subjectivized. Although some boundaries have no more “physical” reality, they exist, in humans’ minds and recognition, and borders have become limits, at least mental limits. Even though everyone needs limits to exist as a human being, mental boundaries are not the same when walls replace gates, when the main function of boundaries is to divide and not to allow passage. A fortress is a reality, in the human mind and in spaces even inside, with minorities’ problems or supposed failure of multiculturalism(s). The reality of ‘outside’ is also a danger ‘inside’ as a border-wall transforms us. So it is important not to become Barbarians because we could consider that others behind the wall are Barbarians (Todorov 2008). One important question about this problem: are our (European) “values” enough to fight this danger?

Keywords: Boundaries – Barbarians –European Neighbourhood Policy – European Integration.

Rhetoric and Communications E-journal, Issue 27, March 2017,,, ISSN 1314-4464

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