October 29th and 30th 2009 – Fences and Walls in International Relations
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, do good fences still make good neighbours? Since the Great Wall of China, construction of which began under the Qin dynasty, the Antonine Wall, built in Scotland to support Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman “Limes” or the genko borui built by the Japanese on Kyushu Island, the “wall” has been a constant in the protection of defined entities claiming sovereignty, East and West.
In the 1990s, when the talk was of globalization and peace dividends, borders as such seemed to be becoming illusory. Nevertheless, the post-Cold War and post-9/11 periods have seen the rise of border walls, symbols of separation which seemed to be on the way out in the wake of decolonisation (with the dismantling of the Morice, Challe and Pedron lines in the Maghreb, the McNamara line between the two Vietnams, and the cordon sanitaire [Corsan] along Rhodesia’s border) and were believed to be entirely finished and done with after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, this conference proposes to raise the issue and to analyze the factors that have led to the resurgence of the wall, if not in fact at least in discourse.
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