Sabine Carey – University of Mannheim

Virtual Seminar:

Contested borders: The effect of borderization on perceived threats to personal security.


In different regions across the globe, some borders between or within internationally recognized countries are heavily contested. While these contestations may lead to physical confrontation and violence, it is likely that this escalation does not solve the dispute. In these latter cases border questions remain open and unsettled after the violence has subsided. How do contested borders affect the daily lives of citizens? Does the nature of the border affect people’s attitudes towards these demarcations? With this exploratory study we suggest that the way in which the borderline is presented, e.g. how visible and fortified it is, shapes individuals’ views of security and stability. Using novel survey data from Georgia, we investigate how different types of borderization shape security concerns of the local population. We show that well established boundaries between contested areas create a greater sense of stability, whereas more ambiguous borderlines are associated with greater security concerns. The closer people live to such borders, the more prominent these concerns become. In a second step, we test whether the likelihood that individuals perceive the contested border as a security threat is shaped by the type of news media the individual relies on. Our results show that while respondents who leave near the contested and often not clearly demarcated administrative borderline between Georgia and South Ossetia perceive the border as a personal security risk, these concerns weaken if individuals rely predominantly on social media for news. We offer some initial insights into how the appearance of contested borderlines shapes perceptions of individual security on the ground.

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