Annette Idler together with Yadaira Orsini (Oxford Project Management) and Natasha Leite (Danish Demining Group) published their article introducing a new epistemological approach to borderlands and hubs of protracted conflict.
Borderlands in vulnerable regions are spaces where the nexus between conflict, crime, and politics are at their most dynamic. They are places of opportunity but also of heightened risk. Borderlands play a crucial role in today’s conflicts, whereby communications, finance, crime, and ideas flow constantly across these. Such a complex environment makes these conflicts more resistant to resolution through negotiated settlements. This unique set of characteristics represents a considerable challenge for policymakers, whose current suite of policy responses are ill equipped to deal specifically with borderlands. This is largely because they are confined to state-centred approaches. The very tension that arises from state-centric views that attach importance to the borderline, and the transnational flows that cross it in border areas, epitomise the challenge that we face in solving protracted cross-border conflicts through an international system that is predominantly defined by state borders. Borderland characteristics and the increasingly cross-border nature of conflict defy the traditionally state-centric ‘rules of the game’ by which most organisations and country structures operate, creating a significant challenge for engagement that has yet to be addressed in a meaningful way. This paper sets out to meet this challenge by introducing a new epistemological approach to borderlands and hubs of protracted conflict that can enhance our understanding of the dynamics in such contexts. It aims to promote a useful framework for academia, practitioners, and policymakers alike to engage in these particularly complex environments.