Perspectives #10 - Borders: Lines in the Sand or in the Mind?
When ISIS announced the establishment of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ it fuelled discussions as to whether this would herald the ‘end of Sykes-Picot’ – borders artificially drawn by the colonial powers at the beginning of the twentieth century. But borders are more than ‘lines in the sand’: they divide. While the privileged few may cross legitimately by simply presenting their passport, for most, these borders present difficult if not insurmountable hurdles. People fleeing from war, climate change or economic hardship, attempt to cross the Mediterranean but many drown trying.
Crossing borders legally has become increasingly difficult which leaves many who are desperate at the mercy of smugglers or human traffickers; and, in this equation, it is more often the victims who are prosecuted, punished and deported than those who sell passage on barely seaworthy vessels.
So what is on the map for the region? Syrian author Haid Haid discusses whether the division of Syria is an option. This necessarily raises the question of the future of the Kurds, a question that has become even more relevant following the Turkish intervention in Syria. Bakr Sidki explores whether the issue is autonomy, federalism, or something entirely different.
While borders between nations might be the best documented, there are plenty of other lines of division: social, ethnic, religious and ideological. How firm or permeable the divisions are is subject to change, but any border is a painful memory of the fact that it is not an individual’s choice to define which side he or she is on.
Hanaa Edwar, a member of the Iraqi communist party, joined the Iraqi resistance, the Peshmerga, in the 1980s. She takes us back to a time when she and her comrades developed a vision of how to overcome the borders imposed by ethnicity, religion, class and gender.
The Lebanese artists of KnoozRoom consider the situation of people in communities particularly affected by the drawing of borders – a project featured by one of its creators, Tamara Qiblawi.
Mohammed Dibo discusses the relationship between a virtually shrinking world and the new challenges globalization poses to identity. In a world where some have the chance to move and others are forced to migrate, people become modern nomads; this, at least, is the approach of Moroccan artist Mohammed Laouli and German Artist Karin Ströbel in their project ‘Frontières Fluides – fluid boundaries’. Morocco is a transit country for migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, and because of the proximity of some of its borders to Europe, it is particularly affected by border regimes.
The Jordanian satirical magazine Al Hudood mocks European efforts to seal its borders, while Moroccan author Mehdi Alioua describes the ‘Walls of Fortress Europe’ as full of cracks that allow for selective and ambivalent transgressions. In similar fashion, Khalid Mouna looks at the city of Tangier and how migration and drug trafficking blur the concept of border control as a means to enhance security.
Abraham Zeitoun interviews actress Sawsan Bou Khaled on her understanding of the more subtle borders of the body and the arts.
Finally, this issue is illustrated by the Lebanese artist Nadine Bekdache with her take on space, borders and transgression.
Permit us a little celebration: with ‘Borders’, the Arab Middle East and North Africa offices publish their tenth edition of Perspectives!
Bente Scheller, Dorothea Rischewski, Bettina Marx and Joachim Paul.
Table of contents
Editorial - Page 1
Is Partitioning Syria a Solution? - Page 2
The Kurds and the Shifting Borders of the Middle East - Page 6
The Dream of Overcoming all Borders - Page 13
On the Borders of Dreams - Stories from the Front Lines of Political Partitions - Page 18
The Myth of Demographic Purity - Page 22
Frontières Fluides - Page 30
Katrin Ströbel & Mohammed Laouli
Hungary Successfully Stops Birds’ Attempt to Migrate to Europe - Page 43
Al Hudood Team
If Europe is a Fortress, then its Walls are Full of Cracks: the Case of Sub-Saharan Migrants in Morocco - Page 44
Borders, Drugs and Migrants in Northern Morocco - Page 49
On More Subtle Borders A Discussion with Author, Director and Performer Sawsan Bou Khaled - Page 54