The Politics of Border Walls in Hungary, Georgia and Israel
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Politicians justify border walls by arguing that it would protect the nation from outside threats, such as immigration or terrorism. The literature on border walls has identified xenophobic nationalism's centrality in framing border walls as a security measure. Yet, alternative geographic visions of nationhood in Hungary, Georgia and Israel define the fenced perimeters in these countries as the lines that divide the nation and its territory. These cases illustrate the contradiction between the geography of security, marked by the border wall, and the geography of nationhood, which extends beyond the fenced boundary. These cases allow us to problematize the link between "security" and "nationalism" and their relationship with borders. Therefore, this dissertation is a study of the politics of reconciling distinct geopolitical visions of security and nationhood in the making of border walls. Justification of border walls requires the reframing of the national territory in line with the geography articulated by border security and away from the spatially expanded vision of nationhood. A successful reframing of the nation's geography is a matter of politicians' skills to craft a convincing geopolitical storyline in favor of the border wall that would combine security and nationalist arguments (Hungary). However, even the most skillful rhetoricians will find it hard to create such a discursive story if the hegemonic geography of nationhood has firmly fixed the meaning of the fenced line not as a border but as a dividing line across the nation's geo-body (Georgia). Where such hegemonic geography of nationhood is absent and the society disagrees over the meaning, shape and location of borders and territory, a security discourse in favor of the border wall would sway the public opinion towards that type of territorial conception of nationhood, which overlaps with the promise of protection (Israel).
General Audience Abstract
Politicians justify border walls by arguing that it would protect the nation from outside threats, such as immigration or terrorism. This study shows that the new border walls do not necessarily mean the rise of nationalism. Instead, the nationalism associated with border walls has sidelined and replaced other forms of nationalism that aim to keep the border open and expand the state's reach beyond the sovereign boundaries. In Hungary, Georgia and Israel, new border walls serve the purpose of security. Simultaneously, they separate the country from the areas beyond the fenced line but are considered part of the national territory. This study accounts for the political process that aims to reconcile these territorial contradictions between the quest for border security and the nationalist desire to maintain power beyond the border wall. The study has found that such a dual functioning of the borders has been possible in Hungary and Israel. In contrast, in Georgia, the fence remains a deeply negative symbol of the nation's territorial division.
- Doctoral Dissertations