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A “Border for the People”? Narratives on Changing Eastern Borders in Finland and Austria

Lena Laube, Christof Roos


The fall of the Iron Curtain and the border regime of the European Union have changed perceptions of borders. This study compares border narratives on two Eastern borders in Austria and Finland in order to find out how such narratives picture the changing functions of the borders. The qualitative data gathered from interviews with border policy actors in both countries reveals that the shared narrative of the Iron Curtain is in the process of being substituted by a narrative which suggests a “border for the people”, a border managed according to the border-crosser’s demands. However, this emphasis on mobility depends on the section of the border the interviewee focuses on. Land borders are connected with the classical security and control functions of borders to stop unwanted border crossings. Yet, the border crossing points are meant to enable and encourage wanted flows. The same border can have very different functions, depending on where the observer is focusing. Analytically, those differing foci have to be distinguished in order to better interpret border narratives.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229