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Sommeruniversity 2023

Borders as spaces of security and insecurity

The sign commemorates the German-Danish Europe Day in 1997, 23 years later the border in Pattburg/Padborg was closed again. Photo: Karin Riggelsen

A Europe without borders – this dream is over for the time being. A number of European Union member states closed their borders in March 2020 due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, thus reviving the powerful figure of thought of the “primacy of foreign policy”. This notion of a clear distinction between external and internal security and resulting border demarcations is in many cases the product of new – often global – perceptions of security and insecurity. It reflects a renewed high phase of European nation-state and territorial statehood, as we have observed since the refugee crisis in 2015 and the simultaneous rise of nationalist parties. However, security dynamics have always been territorialization dynamics and were subject to the logic of statebuilding, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. The German-Danish border region, which was marked by numerous conflicts from the mid-19th century onward and which shaped the binational relationship of Germany and Denmark until the second half of the 20th century, represents an example of this development. Finally, a veritable “border syndrome” has existed since the 20th century, making borders one of the central issues in the political public sphere at regular intervals and, to a certain extent, fostering national identity-building processes – always in demarcation from the immediate neighbors.

It is therefore obvious that security always has a spatial dimension. For through the delimitation of a geographical area, an attempt is made to enforce regulatory control. It is all the more surprising, therefore, that the obvious interrelation between spatiality and security with regard to the German-Danish border region has so far been reflected upon only to a limited extent. After all, stable and mutually recognized borders are only conditionally dividing lines; rather, they often develop into reference points for exchange and interaction. This permeability of borders under the view of security aspects will be the topic of the Summer University 2023 from August 6 to 12, 2023 in the Bildungsstätte Knivsberg.

An intercultural place of learning

The summer school will highlight the different narratives, visit regional memorial sites, and discuss the importance of staged commemoration for today’s society. Participants:will work in small groups to create various podcasts to understand and communicate both the specific stories and their uses. Here they will have the opportunity to work with individual perspectives on history, culture, and politics in a multi-ethnic society.

International participants and interdisciplinary research

As a cooperative event of the International Business Communication Studies and the Center for Border Region Studies of the University of Southern Denmark, the Institute for Hessian Regional History of the Philipps-University of Marburg, the Department of Regional History of the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, the Frisian Seminar and the study program European Cultures and Societies of the European-University of Flensburg, the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation for the Promotion of Foreigners, the Association of German Northern Schleswig and the Danish Central Library for Southern Schleswig, the Summer University is aimed at students of various disciplines.

The international and interdisciplinary structure enables the participants to analyze the development of a historical border region from different perspectives. This opens up a new perspective on the topic of “borders as spaces of security and insecurity” for students and lecturers alike. The Summer University thus represents an innovative place of study and encounter that consciously promotes professional, interdisciplinary and intercultural exchange. Working languages of the Summer University are German and English.

Students at the Summer University at Idstedt-Löwen (Dan. Istedløven) in Flensburg/Flensborg. Photo: Caroline E. Weber