Over the last decade, anthropologists have drawn attention to the disconnect between a political imagination that conceptualizes nation-states’ borders as unambiguous and linear, and the realities of borderlanders’ experience where cultural and social space is frequently folded and overlapping. Through their very focus on hybridity and crossborder linkages, however, border ethnographies have unwittingly given even more weight to linear demarcations—all the while insisting that they are abstract and ideological. In mining the border-as-skin somatic metaphor, this article foregrounds nonvisual bodily senses such as tactility in its analysis and suggests that the inclusion of proximate senses in ethnographies of border encounters offers significant analytical advantages. It moves away from the visuality that dominates political cartography, thus allowing for a more sensuous and synesthetic ethnographic work. Additionally, in heeding the recent research on topologies published by geographers and social theorists, the paper hopes to contribute to the emerging mathematical turn.
Environment and Planning D: Society and Space – SAGE
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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