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BRIT 2016 : 15th Border Regions In Transition (BRIT) Conference, Hamburg – Sønderborg, May 2016


When May 17, 2016 - May 20, 2016
Where Hamburg
Submission Deadline Nov 1, 2015
Categories    borders   state   cities   urban

Call For Papers

15th Border Regions in Transition (BRIT) Conference
Cities, States and Borders: From the Local to the Global

Hamburg (Germany) – Sønderborg (Denmark)
17-20 May 2016

Welcome to BRIT 2016!

The objective of the 15th Border Regions in Transition (BRIT) Conference organized by the University of Southern Denmark, the University of Hamburg and the HafenCity University Hamburg is to rethink the complicated relationships that bind cities, urban development and state borders. The conference will offer a unique opportunity to explore the collaborative or competitive strategies of this odd couple under the current circumstances of globalization.

Borders and cities

The emergence of a much more integrated world has challenged some of our most fundamental assumptions on cities, states and borders. Now that states are actively promoting the development of competitive cross-border city-regions – as in the Øresund – the classical opposition between the cosmopolitan city and the national state no longer holds true. Now that states have developed selective strategies that are supposed to simultaneously guarantee security while also enabling trade flows – as between the U.S. and Mexico –, the much-discussed contradiction between the city as a space of flows and the state as a territorial container has evaporated. And now that the external limits of territories and the internal delimitations within societies have been blurred, many cities appear at risk of being trapped by the securitization of the state and its search for exhaustiveness and exclusivity. In a world where borders are simultaneously opened and closed, opportunities and constraints, negated and claimed, the theories developed by border studies appear to be more fragile than ever before.

If that were not enough, it appears that the current transformation in the forms and functions of borders affect cities and city-regions differently according to their size, governance networks, and/or economic structure. As state borders have become increasingly networked, diffused, and mobile, some city-regions, like Geneva or Luxembourg, have transformed from disadvantaged spaces due to their peripheral position to prosperous interfaces. Now considered as a resource, the presence of a border allows these city-regions to develop a growth model based on the comparative advantages of several states, and reinforces their international visibility in the global competition in which they are engaged. Similar developments have been observed, for different reasons, in some parts of Africa, where border towns have mushroomed due to the ability of local traders to exploit border differentials, and in Asia, where transfrontier metropolises such as Singapore or Hong Kong are highly integrated to the global economy.

Elsewhere in the world, the benefits of free-trade are often being more than outweighed by the re-bordering of national borders, which allows states to control movement and avert subversion. Over the last decades, walls such as the one supposed to divide Israelis and Palestinians, and custom posts are experiencing a resurgence, dividing or isolating the city and recreating the fiction of a harmonious accord between territory and identity. Many small border cities, as well, have struggled to transform their geographically peripheral situation into an advantage. Even in Europe, where it seems at first glance that the main challenge for cities is to minimize the remaining obstacles that could slow regional integration, numerous small urban centers still turn their back on the border.

Against this background, BRIT 2016 will serve as a global forum for border scholars engaged in research dealing with cities, state and borders, irrespective of their disciplinary backgrounds, methodological approaches, or geographical scope. Topics of interest include (but are not limited to) the following:

• The globalized cross-border metropolis and its flows
• The reunited city and its scars
• The divided city and its walls
• The securitized city and its border controls
• The small city and its relative indifference to borders
• The border market and its overflowing activity
• The medium sized border city and its changing role as outpost or metropolitan suburb

Plenary Speakers

• Professor Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, University of Victoria, Canada
• Dr Beatrix Haselsberger, University of Cagliari, Italy and TU Wien, Austria
• Professor Paul Nugent, University of Edinburgh, UK (pending)
• Professor Tony Payan, Rice University, USA
• Associate Professor Michaela Trippl, Lund University, Sweden

Organizing Committee

• Associate Professor Olivier Walther, University of Southern Denmark (Chair)
• Associate Professor Martin Klatt, University of Southern Denmark
• Professor Jörg Knieling, HafenCity University Hamburg
• Professor Jürgen Ossenbrügge, University of Hamburg
• Associate Professor Katarzyna Stoklosa, University of Southern Denmark
• Associate Professor Carsten Yndigegn, University of Southern Denmark

Submission of papers and paper sessions

Interested participants should submit a one-page extended abstract (roughly 500-700 words) written in English before November 1, 2015. Authors may use the online submission system ( hosted by EasyChair Conference System to submit their papers. If you don’t have an EasyChair account you will need to create one and then login in order to submit your paper.

Organizers of paper sessions should submit individual abstracts using the online submission system and contact the Organizing Committee by email ( with a list of participants and session chair, their institutional and email address, and a short description of the panel. Panel sessions include a maximum of 4 papers.

Abstracts will be selected based on their originality, relevance, and clarity. Following a review of abstracts by the scientific committee, authors will be invited to submit a full paper.

Important Dates

• Abstract submission due: November 1, 2015
• Notification of acceptance: February 1, 2016
• Registration: April 1, 2016
• Full papers due: April 30, 2016
• Conference: May 17-20, 2016

Travel and accommodation

The conference will start in Hamburg (Germany) in the morning of 17th May and will end in Sønderborg (Denmark) in the evening of 20th May. Transport will be provided from Hamburg to Sønderborg and back to Hamburg Airport in the morning of 21st May. Conference participants are responsible for their travel arrangements and accommodation in both cities.


Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions:

Olivier Walther, Ph.D. (Chair)
Associate Professor
Department of Border Region Studies
University of Southern Denmark
DK-6400 Sønderborg, Denmark
Phone: +45 6550 1000

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