The fall of the Berlin Wall and the emergence of a new international landscape ushered in an era of globalization in which states appeared irrevocably condemned to obsolescence, a world without borders. The advent of an international system in which the state was relegated to secondary importance in international relations, coupled with the disappearance of physical borders, left little reason to expect a return of the wall. However, borders, walls and barriers, symbols that were thought to have perished with decolonization and the disappearance of the bipolar world, made a comeback in the aftermath of 9/11. The wall as object embraces a heterogeneous range of structures built with diverse motivations on a variety of borders. Meanwhile, the wall as phenomenon has proliferated over the past 10 years, encircling both democratic and authoritarian states, failed states and healthy ones. This special issue investigates both the empirical and symbolic facets of the erection of structures designed to keep away (and keep away from) the Other, from the "near abroad."
From the building of the Great Wall of China, begun in the 3rd century bce, the construction of Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall in Scotland by the Romans in the 2nd century ce as part of the Roman Limes, along with the less hermetic fossatum Africae to the south, built over a period extending from the 1st to the 2nd century ce, Offa's Dyke in Wales and King Gudfred of Denmark's Danevirke, both built in the 7th century, the genko borui built by the Japanese in northern Kyushu Island to guard against Mongol invasions, and feudal fortifications such as the Gotavirke in Sweden and the Silesia walls, up to more contemporary structures that have been developed into an art by experts in siege craft, such as Vauban and Sere de Rivieres, the "wall" has been a mainstay of international relations.
Indeed, the international system of the second half of the 20th century was defined by a border barrier and, when the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago, observers thought the world had turned around. Today, it is clear that the world has only come full circle (Paasi 2009, 216). The end of the Cold War made a deep impression on the popular imagination: it seemed to mean the end of a world split into two camps, divided between opposing loyalties, racked by conflict and border disputes (Badie 1999; 2000). The fall of the Berlin Wall and the emergence of a new international landscape ushered in an era of globalization in which states appeared irrevocably condemned to obsolescence, a world without borders (Ohmae 1990; Galli 2001; Zolo 2004; Schroer 2006). Neo-liberal and critical scholars alike sought to go beyond a state-centric reading of international geopolitics (Paasi 1998: 70-1), now viewed as a "territorial trap" (Agnew 1994). The advent of an international system in which the state was relegated to secondary importance in international relations and mobility became a defining feature of the global environment (Balibar and Badie 2006), coupled with the waning of the principle of sovereignty (Badie 1999) and the concomitant disappearance of physical borders, left little reason to expect a return of the wall.
However, borders, walls and barriers, symbols that were thought to have perished with decolonization and the disappearance of the bipolar world (Levy 2005, 40), made a comeback in the aftermath of 9/11 (Ballif and Rosiere 2009, 194; Brown 2009; David and Vallet 2009; Vallet and David 2012). After 2001, a paradigm shift in the treatment of borders (Newman 2006) led to the (re)appearance of walls and barriers as key instruments for the protection of state sovereignty. But the continuing dominance of "borderless" discourse has led theoreticians to evade the issue of walls and wall-building during the past decade. Furthermore, the concept involves a couple of difficulties: the definition of a "border wall" is complicated and it is a fast-growing contemporary phenomenon that has not been subjected to general theoretical investigation beyond its function as a border marker.
The "Border Wall" Concept
A variety of terms are used to describe the concept. Depending on the speaker's political stance, ideology and universe of discourse, walled borders are variously referred to as security, separation, apartheid or anti-terror walls, obstacles, partitions, fences, barriers, barricades or borders (Sivan 2006, 98). The most striking illustration of the semantic range is the terminological quarrel over Israel's barrier/border/wall, noted by Belize's representative in his comments before the International Court of Justice in 2004.1 We will use the term "wall" to describe border barriers with fixed masonry foundations (Gheslin, in Sorel 2010).
Typically, however, those walls consist of much more than a barrier built on masonry foundations. They are flanked by boundary roads, topped by barbed wire, laden with sensors, dotted with guard posts, infrared cameras and spotlights, and accompanied by an arsenal of laws and regulations (right of asylum, right of residence, visas). We understand the word "wall" in the broadest sense, as a political divider that comprises complex technologies, control methods, legislative provisions and "securing the border" discourse.
In the post-modern period of international relations, walls constitute a specific border issue for states (David and Vallet 2009). They must be regarded not only as physical barriers but also as gateways, for they are punctured by official and unofficial openings through which people can cross from one side to the other (Zolberg 1989, 406; Andreas 2000, 2) and apparatus, such as checkpoints, by which states can control their movements (Ritaine 2009).
A wall is not necessarily synonymous with a border and a border is not necessarily hermetically sealed: it is a point of contact, an interface (Konrad and Nicol 2008, 8). In principle, a borderline is bilateral, its course defined by the bordering states and governed by agreements, while the location of a wall is-with few exceptions (Sajjad 2006)-a unilateral matter decided exclusively by one side. If we take it that a border wall marks a boundary that can also be regarded as a zone (Gottmann 1952, 123), then the wall must be understood not only in terms of its consequences for contemporary international relations but also its tangible impact on society, for the steadily growing trend to build border walls has implications for state sovereignty, international security and human security (Crepeau and Nakache 2007, 311).
The Growth of the Wall
A quantitative analysis suggests that walls are, indeed, a global phenomenon that merits further attention (see Figure 1). Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Cold War border structures, such as the wall in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas and Morocco's wall around Western Sahara, have been joined by some 30 structures, built or announced. If all are completed, their length could total, according to different estimates, from 18,000 km (Foucher 2007) to more than 41,000 km (Rosiere 2009), depending on the calculation method. As of 2010, there were nearly 45 border walls (soon to be 48) totaling more than 29,000 km.2Figure 1. More Walls in a Globalizing International System (1945-2010). Data Compiled by the Authors.
Between 1945 and 1991, 19 walls and barriers were built. Those between East and West Berlin, the Inner German Border, in Bavaria between Czechoslovakia and Germany, in Panama around the US enclave, around the Gibraltar enclave, in Algeria (the Morice, Challe and Pedron lines) and between the two Vietnams have all been dismantled. The walls between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, between Israel and Syria, Israel and Lebanon, China and Hong Kong, China and Macao, Rhodesia, Mozambique and Zambia, Cuba and the Guantanamo zone, the first phase of the wall between India and Pakistan, the wall in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, the separation line on Cyprus, and Morocco's wall in Western Sahara have all survived the end of the Cold War.
It is telling that, between 1991 and 2001, only 7 walls were added to the 13 that survived the Cold War: the barriers between Kuwait and Iraq, the US and Mexico, Malaysia and Thailand, India and Pakistan (phase 1), Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kirgizstan, and around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco. While walls have been an historic constant, particularly in the second half of the 20th century, the end of the Cold War did mark the end of an era, the downgrading of the wall as a political institution. Conversely, the contemporary post-9/11 period has seen the return of the wall as object and political instrument. Contrary to what many expected during the immediate post-Cold War period, new strategies of separation have developed and borders have been renewed and transformed (Cuttitta 2007).
9/11 marked a watershed in international relations. One of the results has been the growing fortification of borders (see Figure 1), with the construction (completed or planned) of 28 walls: Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan; Israel/Palestine; Botswana/Zimbabwe; Pakistan/Afghanistan; China/North Korea; Saudi Arabia/Yemen; Saudi Arabia/Iraq; Saudi Arabia/Oman; Saudi Arabia/Qatar; Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates; India/Bangladesh; India/Pakistan (phase 2); Egypt/Gaza Strip; Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan; Israel/Lebanon; Israel/Jordan; Jordan/Iraq; India/Burma; Burma/Bangladesh; Thailand/Malaysia (phase 2); United Arab Emirates/Oman; Brunei/eastern Malaysia (Limbang); Russia (Abkhazia)/Georgia; Iran/Pakistan; Iran/Afghanistan; Greece/Turkey. We are, therefore, witnessing a veritable proliferation of built structures along borders (David and Vallet 2009).
Walled In or Walled Out?
September 2001 sparked not only a quantitative surge in wall-building but also a qualitative break. It is not just that 9/11 appears to have ratified the return of the wall as a physical object and political instrument (Jones 2010); it is also noteworthy that, since that date, wall-building has been undertaken (or stepped up) by democratic governments (Foucher 2007) in order to demonstrate their ability to regain control of their borders (Foucher 2009, 6). "Democratic" walls include everything from the fences around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco and the barrier India is currently building along its border with Bangladesh to what some have referred to as the "Schengen wall" (Sanguin 2007). A parallel is often drawn between two symbols of the resurgence of the wall, largely because of their semantic and chronological proximity (Clochard 2003; Le Boedec 2007). While the two cases are actually quite different, they do attest to the force of what has become a phenomenon in international relations. First, the US is extending the existing 930 km barrier on its border with Mexico, even though President Obama announced in March 2010 that the building of the expensive "virtual border" would be suspended. Meanwhile, Israel continues building its separation wall in the West Bank on both sides of the 1967 Green Line. It is now 500 km long and will eventually extend to over 800 km-and Israel has just announced that a barrier is to be built all along the Egyptian border. Like the US-Mexico wall, Israel's fence boasts sophisticated electronic detection equipment, purported to be highly effective by the Israeli defense ministry (Israel Ministry of Defence 2003). This list of "democratic" walls would not be complete without noting the announcements by Greece and then...
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