The aesthetic turn in border studies: Visual geographies of power, contestation and subversion

Francesco Moze, Samuel J. Spiegel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In recent years, critical border studies have developed sophisticated concepts and methodologies for exploring the multifaceted spatialities, sociologies and temporalities of contemporary borders. In this article, we consider how the “aesthetic turn” that has gained prominence in the scholarship can further inform thinking in border studies. Specifically, we focus on the role of the visual in the construction as well as subversion of borders, suggesting possible avenues for future critical aesthetics-engaged research on COVID-19 era border reconfigurations. To do so, we first briefly outline the theoretical evolution of border studies, paying attention to recent conceptualisations of borders as dynamic processes of social and spatial differentiation. We then build on the borderscapes concept to unpack research on border aesthetics, with particular attention to the heterogeneous roles played by visual objects such as maps, photographs and videos in shaping both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic processes of bordering. Finally, we bring these contributions into discussion with recent insights on the COVID-19 pandemic, sketching several ways to advance aesthetic concepts and methodologies in academic research on borderscapes that are emerging with, and will likely outlast, the pandemic. We suggest that border studies and affiliated sub-fields can gain useful insights from attending more explicitly and robustly to dynamic visual geographies of power, contestation and subversion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12618
JournalGeography Compass
Issue number4
Early online date11 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • border aesthetics
  • bordering
  • borders
  • borderscapes
  • cross-border geographies
  • visuality


Dive into the research topics of 'The aesthetic turn in border studies: Visual geographies of power, contestation and subversion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this