A Singular International Area: Border and Cultures in the Societies of the Strait of the Gibraltar (Working Paper #23)

Francisco Oda-Ángel, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid

Abstract: When we refer to Border we are not solely referring to the demarcating line or to the imaginary limit drawn and arisen from diplomatic negotiations or as a result of wars. In addition to including this bordering area, borders have their own characteristics which determine and give sense to the day to day life of those societies which are at one side and at the other side. Border societies and border people share features which make the border a movable and flexible concept or category of thought, involving a great diversity of hybrid cultural expressions which are not exempted from inherent contractions in their own nature. The border eases a series of determinations and ambiguities which jointly involve punishments for some and allow transgressions for others. Maybe due to the fact that for the border individual, the idea of border dissipates and disintegrates to the extent of disappearing and defines the border area as exclusive, beyond and above the respective rules and values at each side. Border people do not perceive the border in the same conditions as those at each side who do not hold such a condition. Therefore, the border is not regarded as being at one side and them at the other, but as an area open to co-operation and not an abyss which divides people, but a community with its own energy, direction and future. Border identity is caused by those who live within those societies settled in the different parts of the border and the former are capable of going beyond the view of border that those who are outside it have. It is also true that we could outline many kinds of borders which go from the traditional, historical, political-administrative, linguistic, cultural, economic, maritime, fluvial, to those borders which are more intimate and refer to thought, collective imagination or mentality. Borders that are born and die or even border people who, for different reasons, the border has crossed over without their having moved from their territory, and have passed to form part of the other side without any intention on their part. Such is the case of, inter alia, the “twin cities” of Gibraltar-La Línea-San Roque, El Paso-Ciudad Juárez, Laredo-Nuevo Laredo or San Diego-Tijuana.

Working Paper #23»