Jouitteau (2015c)

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Jouitteau, M. 2015c. 'Human frontiers: This is an act of smuggling across social borders', Juan Baztan, Omer Chouinard, Bethany Jorgensen, Paul Tett, Jean-Paul Vanderlinden & Liette Vasseur, Coastal zones, solutions for the 21st century, Elsevier: Amsterdam, 53-69. science direct.


  abstract:
 This article examines the possibility of communication between human groups, including academic scientists addressing nonacademics about topics they feel are important for all. This is a study of the effects of boundaries between human groups, and of potential resistance strategies to them. I show that the concrete knowledge anyone has of geographical borders applies to the boundaries created by the categorizations across human groups. Any power relationship leading to categorization among humans leads to the creation of social frontiers: rich versus poor, heterosexuals versus non-heterosexuals, professors versus students, able-bodied versus disabled, men versus women, whites versus nonwhites, centers versus peripheries, and young versus old. These frontiers can be apprehended fundamentally like geopolitical borders. Approaching human categorizations from the angle of geopolitical borders has several advantages. First, it is an undeniably well-grounded parallel, because geopolitical borders indeed create a categorization among humans: maps are their most famously visualized manifestation. Second, the analogy is useful, because the spatial dimension of geopolitical borders makes them easier to grasp, compared to other types of human categorizations. Finally, this metaphor proves efficient for enabling a change in thinking, by building a dynamic vision of power relationships and categorizations.
 
 The chapter is organized into three parts. In the first part, I argue for the hypothesis that geopolitical boundaries are basically of the same nature as other boundaries between humans in social groups. I show that the organized knowledge humans have about geopolitical boundaries applies to hierarchical boundaries between human groups by reviewing the paradigmatic field of borders: renegotiation of border outlines, passports and identity documents, work visas, immigration, tourism, signposts, customs and tariffs, smugglers, stateless persons, and border populations. In the second part, I propose the following three qualitative parameters to distinguish between these borders: (1) visibility of categorization criteria, (2) opportunities for individuals to elude the border paradigm, and (3) spatial and temporal dimensions and their effects on spaces of intersection. I demonstrate how multiple frontiers interact. In the third part, I show how an analysis in terms of borders captures reality by offering a case study, that of smuggling and smugglers.
 
 This article does not pretend to discover new phenomena. It claims to provide, in clear language, a way to think about the boundaries between categorized human groups. In the following, identity is not represented as immanent or unalterable. The concrete barriers to the freedom of individuals are named, acknowledged, and given a greater degree of visibility. The analysis thus addresses the question of social categorization in doing away with essentialist and/or fragmentary visions of the notion of identity. It investigates the conditions of feasibility for individual or collective resistance strategies against categorizations such as racial or sexual category assignment, without falsely implying that an individual creates the effects of the social world on herself, or can by force of will uncategorize herself. In the line of Foucault's work, state power is not treated as fundamentally different from other instantiations of power between humans. Power produces reality, namely here the categories of human groups. It is all the more effective when hidden, and bringing it to light helps prevent us from succumbing to its pitfalls and paradoxes. This reflection is necessarily interdisciplinary, and the chapter takes illustrations drawing on the fields of sociology, linguistics, political science, gender studies, autobiographical novels, and contemporary art.


Keywords: Cultural studies; Identity frontiers; Identity studies; Intersectionality; Popularisation of science; Sex/race Categorisations


Un pan de cette recherche a été traduit en français dans Jouitteau (2015c').