The border is no more, long live the border: De-materialization and re-materialization of internal borders in the European Union

PRIN 2022.


“The border is no more, long live the border” project aims to explore processes of de- and re-materialization of land borders within the selectively fluid Schengen space, by focusing on three key northern Italian borderscapes marked by different histories and border practices: the border with Slovenia in Trieste, with Austria at Brenner, and with France in Ventimiglia. The project aims to provide a transdisciplinary, groundbreaking contribution to current debates in Critical Border Studies by responding to recent calls to: 1) analyze the direct effects of bordering infrastructures on the bodies of unauthorized subjects on-the-move and; 2) engage with the vernacular dimension of borders to appreciate how bordering processes are negotiated, experienced, and narrated by different mobile subjects.

With this in mind, the project will assess how processes of de-materialization and re-materialization of these European borders selectively categorize, impact, and manage different mobile subjects. The project will consider the material and immaterial processes of de/re-bordering as part of the broader governance of mobility, together with the interplay between the infrastructural dimensions of these processes and the experiences of different mobile subjects. More specifically, the project will combine a focus on the ‘hard’ re-materialization of infrastructural border space, and the ways in which these infrastructures performatively produce Europe’s borderscapes (Objective 1) with an analysis of border narratives of the lived experiences and everyday practices related to the vernacular domain of interaction between unauthorized mobile subjects and borderscape residents (Objective 2).

The project overall aims to advance an innovative analytical framework by combining the study of the infrastructural and vernacular dimensions of borders. To do so, the examination of the three case studies will be based on a methodology designed to integrate the more technology-oriented data related to our first research objective with detailed ‘experiential’ information. The project will accordingly: 1) analyze and qualitatively code a plethora of institutional documents, expert interviews and conduct participant observation of how border infrastructural re-materializations are made operational and used locally by authorities involved in local border management; 2) adopt a multi-perspectival and multi-scalar ethnographic approach aimed to highlight experiences and stories of the research participants via extensive participant observation and itinerant interviews.

Project duration
 24 months

Unibo Team Leader
Claudio Minca

Prof. Anna Casaglia (Trento)


Università di Trento

Università di Torino


Euro 277.995

Level II ERC sectors **

SH7_1 Human, economic and social geography