Mainstream post-positivist approaches to Border Studies typically represent national borders as losing their importance or blurring. This insight usually fails to grasp the perspective of those who have to cross 'hard' borders, for whom these borders are primarily 'hard facts' quite precisely restricting territorial limits of their movement. Aiming to take this perspective and practical problems experienced by such border crossers into account, the author proposes an approach focusing on communication between those who cross 'hard' borders and those who protect these borders. The case of the EU-Russian border shows that border crossers have an increasing range of options to make themselves heard by their own country's officials, though it is much more difficult for them to reach gatekeepers and public on the other side of the border without resorting to intermediaries (such as their states or business actors). The author suggests that border crossers could be heard better if cross-border cooperation initiatives would prioritise this purpose thus making the EU's external borders not only 'friendly' or 'blurred' but also 'dialogic'.
This article focuses on two main issues: the ability of informal cross-border entrepreneurs to avoid restrictions imposed by a government, and governmental capacity to make these restrictions work efficiently in the long term. Two kinds of informal trade activities between Russia and
Japan—import of used cars and trafficking of marine bioresources—are taken as case studies. I argue that in both cases informal cross-border traders have tried to exploit cross-border differences to their benefit, balancing between legal, low-punishable, and heavily punishable
practices. Both kinds of informal trade proved to be highly resistant to suppressive government policies and highly capable of exploiting legal and law enforcement loopholes. Still, suppressive government policies proved to be at least partially successful in the long term.
The paper focuses on the phenomenon of borderland shuttle trade across Russia’s borders with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. I argue that borderland shuttle trade is more sustainable in comparison with long-haul shuttle trade, as the former gives entrepreneurs more flexibility, involves fewer transaction costs, and can rely on the extensive support of borderland communities. At the same time, it has some specific vulnerabilities, and its susceptibility to customs control and reliance on overloaded border crossing infrastructure are among the most important. Contrary to beliefs about contemporary states’ inability to exercise efficient control over informal cross-border flows in the age of globalization, this research demonstrates that over the course of time, states may be at least partially successful in suppressing informal cross-border trade. Ultimately, cross-border shuttle trade has proven to be vulnerable to more and more targeted restrictions and control practices. Still, it has also proven to be highly resistant to governmental crackdown in various ways, such as buying fuel from long-haul truck drivers or switching to trade in non-excisable goods or to low-penalty cigarette smuggling. The latter practice illustrates that shuttle trade is only part of the flexible informal cross-border economy and that it can be transformed into low-penalty smuggling when needed.
The paper focuses on the historical discourse produced by the “Caliphate of the Islamic State,” a quasi-state that existed from 2014 to 2017 and was created by a terrorist group (it was not recognized by any country in the world; in 2014 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation banned its activities in Russia). Particular attention is paid to the ways, in which ideologists of the "caliphate" utilized their appeals to the early Islamic historical past in the processes of state-building, constructing “the hostile Other”, and shaping territorial identity of the quasi-state. Such appeals were employed to construct an ideal order to be strictly followed, to legitimize the dominant role the Islamic State’s ideologists as interpreters of this order and to mobilize one’s own group against “the hostile Other”. In the process of constructing the “ideal caliphate” of the past, ideologists took out of historical contexts both various features of those governmental systems that existed in different periods and markedly confrontational archaic practices of medieval Muslim states’ relations with the outside world.
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