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Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of the Border-making Process from a Comparative Lens
Borders and borderlands are political spaces that have their own logic and dynamics, which are usually unique to the context. In the literature, borderlands are often known as the zones that may intensify the effects of violence during conflict (Korf and Raeymaekers, 2013; Idler, 2019; Brenner 2019) because, in these remote areas, the porosity of borderlands become an enabler for the infiltration of goods and people, including armed militants, letting to the clashes between state and non-state actors. Due to increased security threats, states are likely to increase their presence in those contested areas through several practices. Meanwhile, as noted above, state authority is severely challenged in borderlands, particularly as the inhabitants of these areas often have complex self-identities and recognizably different national or political identities than the ethnic majority. Despite the complex dynamics of borderlands, and the plurality of policies and experiences, a lack of a theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich approach to the study of violence in borderlands continues to be a challenge in political science. Because of that, it is also hard to trace local patterns and variations in terms of state’s border policies from a comparative perspective. All these contradictory factors lead to the following question: why does the state’s ‘border work’ contain violence in some cases but may increase it in others? Based on a novel dataset that includes information about state policies of border control along the Kurdish borderlands between Turkey, Iraq, and Iran and people’s lived experiences from semi-structured interviews and archival sources in the last two decades, I argue that borders are drawn at the official/national level but (re)made as a product of everyday interactions between multiple actors at the local level. This study is important given that a comparative understanding of border dynamics helps us understand the complex relationship between state, territory, and people in war-torn contexts. Thereby, with this research, I aim to fill a gap in the literature and contribute to the scholarship on critical security studies, MENA politics, peace and conflict studies as well as (comparative) territorial and border studies.
Political Science
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