Movements Across Space Seminar

We are happy to announce that Dr Rachel Sharples (Western Sydney University) will present the chapter “Movements Across Space: The Thailand-Burma Borderlands as a Social Construct” from Spaces of Solidarity: Karen Activism in the Thai-Burma Borderlands (Berghahn Books, 2020) for our next seminar.

The seminar will be held on Tuesday the 15th of September at 4pm (AEST) via zoom. Professor Bina D’Costa (ANU) and Dr Samantha Balaton-Chrimes (Deakin) will provide commentary on the chapter before an open discussion. Please register for the event here.

Abstract for “Movements Across Space”:

In this chapter I put forward a conceptual framework for the Thailand–Burma borderlands that can account for some of the real-life experiences of those who have an everyday engagement with the border. It is here that we start to see a tension between the hegemonic message of the state and the bounded nature of state mechanisms, and the transformative potential of the space, socially and politically, for those who engage with the border in a far more relational way. Where states tend to treat their borders as static and stable and to use borders as a means of determining belonging and not belonging, the practices of those who challenge this hegemonic narrative have a more translational element that is informed by an interchange that occurs across the national border – of people, ideas, culture, information, resources and identity. There are two seemingly contradictory things occurring here: rigidity and flexibility; closed borders and free movement; consolidation and transformation. But in fact these things coexist. My interest lies in the points where they intersect, because it is in this tension that we can see both the complexity and the possibility of borderlands spaces.

Biography of Dr Rachel Sharples:

Rachel Sharples is a researcher in the School of Social Sciences, Western Sydney University. Rachel’s research interests are interdisciplinary, spanning anthropology, sociology, ethnic and racial studies, communications, cultural studies and politics. Key areas of research involve racism and anti-racism, bystander anti-racism, Islamophobia and racism in digital platforms such as social media and the sharing economy services. She has also published on displaced persons, refugees and migrants in local and global settings, the construction and projection of ethnicity, culture and identity, and statelessness, citizenship and belonging. She has published recently in the Journal of Sociology, Geoforum and Journal of Borderlands Studies. Her book ‘Spaces of Solidarity: Karen activism in the Thailand-Burma borderlands’ was recently published by Berghahn Books.

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