Workshop 2019

Workshop Border

"Borders, Mobilities, and State Formation in the Middle East, 1920-1945"

10-11 October 2019, Neuchâtel

Sponsored by European Research Council


In the last few years, an increasing number of scholars have pointed to the striking paradox of the first wave of globalisation in the Middle East and beyond. While the globe witnessed an unprecedented intensification of the movement of people, goods, diseases, and ideas, states also adopted themselves by developing more or less effective techniques for monitoring and controlling such movements. Border areas constitute a privileged site to observe this process of how globalizing practices interacted with more exclusivist agendas. Middle Eastern states, for one, transformed the physical and social landscape in border areas by creating border posts and implementing shared practices between border authorities, among which was the introduction of symbolic as well as material tools such as passports, and border crossing cards.

Taking its cue from scholarship that suggests to interpret the “centre” through the lens of the “periphery”, this conference seeks to explore to what extent historians can also account for the first wave of globalization in the Middle East through a careful observation of how border areas and its populations found themselves at the centre of influence, movements and tensions on regional and global levels. While we do not dismiss the centrality of diplomacy and high-level geostrategic dynamics in the resolution of international conflicts and the shaping of economic policies, we argue for the necessity of linking different scales of analysis as well as the roles played by non-state actors in those processes in order to better understand the emergence of the modern Middle East in the interwar years.

See the photo gallery below