Ulrich Best


The thesis looks at German-Polish relations and the changing practices of cross-border cooperation in the 1990s. It reviews theories of border studies and argues that, in spite of all change, border studies is part of a structure of power. The author analyses the concepts of transgression and regression in order to describe the current constitution of states, borders and practice. The example of German-Polish relations shows how this constitution has changed throughout history, from a clear delineation of the Other to increasingly European discourse, especially after 1989. Cross-border co-operation, the author argues, has become integrated into the structures of power, has become a rule. Using discourse analysis, the author presents the change of German and Polish discourse on the Other. Traditional structures and historical stereotypes are combined with a new structure in the discourse, which stresses co-operation and encounter. Actors in crossborder co-operation are in a changed situation: their practices used to be defined as acting against state structures, but have now undergone an incorporation in these political and symbolic structures. The actors negotiate new, contradictory spaces for their actions: supported by the state but partly uncomfortable with it, drawing on the new hegemonic discourse of co-operation and trying to escape from it. Their practices, so the final argument, can also inform the practices of border studies.

Document Type


Publication Date