What is border studies?

The collapse of the Soviet Union, global economic fluctuations and terrorism-related security concerns have all led the research on borders to spread into new disciplines and have created the need to study borders beyond just the geopolitical divisions. Hence, in addition to state borders and frontiers, Border Studies focuses on cultural, symbolic and other types of social boundaries.

Border Studies is an interdisciplinary field that critically examines border and identity understandings found in political and everyday discourses. Central research focuses of Border Studies are: comparative historical and sociological state building; geographical perspective on changing meanings of borders; critical geopolitics; markets and regional development, as well as the quotidian life and identities in borderlands.

VERA Centre for Russian and Border Studies has a regional focus on Russia and Northern Europe, Finnish and EU’s eastern borders and border areas. Several factors have recently emphasised the significance of researching these regions: economic growth in the Baltic Sea area and energy-related changes there; post-Cold War political and military transformations; new multi-layered relations between Russia and the EU; cross-border cooperation programmes; increasing migration and cultural inter-linkages.

The officials of the European Union and Finland as well as international organisations and businesses need experts who are able to analyse the consequences Europe’s integration and transformations in Russia as a part of the wider historical context in which regions and borders transform and new cross-border challenges emerge.