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Do if you Dare: Reflections on (Un)familiarity, Identity-Formation and Ontological Politics


  • Dorte Jagetić Andersen


The article argues that in order to investigate effects of (un)familiarity on (im)mobility patterns in the context of border practices it is necessary to liberate the notion from what seems to be a constitutive tie to interactions between (most often two) different national populations. So far most empirical studies of the effects of (un)familiarity on border mobility in Europe have taken distinctions between national populations as their starting-point, thus limiting the scope of the investigation and to some extent also inventing national stereotypes. As an alternative, the article suggests that we appropriate (un)familiarity as the point of departure for an investigation of identity-formation in the context of border practices. Feelings of (un)familiarity occur in relation to broader notions of identity-formation than the hegemony of national identity, and the concept provides us with a tool whereby we can investigate effects of identity-formation on (im)mobility patterns as multiple rather than one-dimensional phenomena. To provide a foundation for conceiving identity-formation in multiple form, (un)familiarity is explored as an analytical concept, which fits into the frame of what the post-ANT scholar, Annemarie Mol has called "ontological politics." Access is thereby provided to understanding bordered identities as a politically charged living-in-tension in-between the territorial closedness of borders and the relational promise of open borders--and it is clarified how we can best capture such processes by locating our research in the very same tensions.

Suggested Citation

  • Dorte Jagetić Andersen, 2014. "Do if you Dare: Reflections on (Un)familiarity, Identity-Formation and Ontological Politics," Journal of Borderlands Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(3), pages 327-337, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rjbsxx:v:29:y:2014:i:3:p:327-337
    DOI: 10.1080/08865655.2014.938966

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Saskia Sassen, 2008. "Introduction to Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages," Introductory Chapters,in: Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages Princeton University Press.
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