Object structure

Od barier i izolacji do sieci i przestrzeni transgranicznej – konceptualizacja cyklu funkcjonowania granic państwowych = From barriers and isolation to transboundary space and networks – conceptualising ways in which state borders function


Przegląd Geograficzny T. 91 z. 4 (2019)


Więckowski, Marek (1971– ) : Autor ORCID



Place of publishing:


Date issued/created:



24 cm

Type of object:


Subject and Keywords:

state border ; barrier ; peripheries ; cross-border cooperation ; Poland ; European Union


Political boundaries represent a universal phenomenon and key element by which social and economic phenomena existing across space are structured. But both the presence and the nature (role, function, etc.) of borders are seen to vary temporally and spatially, with differentiated attendant consequences for socio-economic development. The present article relates to state borders, which separate certain areas off from others, while at the same time constituting meeting points and points of contact between them. While this would hold true whether we perceive the said borders as lines, areas or zones, the modern-day approach to borders is a multi-dimensional one that treats them as socio-spatial constructs revealing and articulating differentiation that truly exists. It is possible to note two opposing cause-and-effect processes here. On the one hand, there are different divisions and boundaries between many socio-economic and even natural phenomena that sanction the existence and locations of borders; while on the other the very existence of state borders establishes or reinforces the existence of other, new divisions that can be regarded as boundaries (even as they are not now necessarily state borders as such). I trust that this argumentation helps capture the essence of the geography present in considerations of boundaries and borders; as well as its changing but ever-important role, while at the same time generating opportunities for further research, and for the ongoing observation of the diverse processes linking up with the existence of borders. Variability and change of function would seem to offer a key to the understanding of the significances of borders and the influences they exert, as regards the border landscape, neighbourly (international) relations and phenomena of a socio-economic nature. In that light, four functions for borders are in fact proposed here – as barriers, peripheries, lines of differentiation and axes of integration. Each change has knock-on implications for transformations of function in regard to both borders as such and the areas adjacent to them. Thus, by making assumptions as to the fundamental aspects characterising variations in the nature of borders, it has been possible here to come up with proposals regarding the consequences these will bring with them. And even as a process whereby a border opens up is underway and integration is ensuing, it is still possible that change as a whole will falter or even stall, should issues arise locally (e.g. through conflict or other negative events), nationally (e.g. through unilateral or bilateral severing of agreements), or globally (e.g. thanks to external threat, a desire to protect domestic markets or a migration crisis). For these reasons, geopolitical considerations will always reign supreme over other borderland phenomena, determining directions of development and possibilities for borders (and adjacent areas) to function. In that light, this article stresses the still-relevant need for borders, borderlands and relevant ongoing processes to be made subject to theoretical conceptualisation and processing. And this would be true as regards, not only the spatial extent or scope of borderland areas, but also the changing conditioning, consequences and actions. In this, a challenge that continues to be present entails the founding of theoretical concepts for the borderland that draw on selected paradigms and stress the role and importance of border and borderland geography, along with its key subjects of interest. And, where the study of borders being pursued in Poland is concerned, it needs to be hoped that a new trajectory may be found and followed, with each conceptualisation exerting a summarising or theorising impact proving of value as form is given to a full new theory for the development of borders and borderlands in Poland and its neighbouring countries, with account taken, not merely of recent decades, but of a much longer time period.


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