In 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, many predicted that sealed gates would soon become relics of a bygone era. Today, we find a different reality. Instead of disappearing, borders are metamorphosing. The border itself has evolved to become a moving barrier, an unmoored legal construct. It has broken free of the map; it may extend beyond the edge of territories or into their interiors. The pandemic has further accentuated these trends. Defeating expectations, states have engendered a whole new legal cartography of control over borders and movement. No longer a static and immovable barrier, the border has become a mobile, agile, sophisticated, and ever-transforming legal construct—a shifting border, which can be planted and replanted in myriad locations, with dramatic implications for the rights and protections of those falling under its remit. The shifting border is at once multidirectional and slippery, but not the transnational, open and tolerant variant that demise-of-the-state or post-Westphalian theories had foreseen. Instead, a darker orientation has emerged. Far from the dream of a borderless world that emerged after the Berlin Wall came down, today we see not only more border walls but also the rapid proliferation of “movable” legal barriers that may appear anywhere but are applied selectively and unevenly, with a fluctuating degree, intensity, and frequency of regulation. This transformation unsettles assumptions about waning sovereignty, while also revealing the limits of the populist push toward border fortification. It also presents a tremendous opportunity to creatively rethink states’ responsibilities to migrants.
Ayelet Shachar is Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, where she heads the Ethics, Law, and Politics Department. Before joining the Max Planck Society, Shachar held the Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Multiculturalism at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, and was also the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at Stanford Law School and the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. She earned her LL.M. and J.S.D from Yale University. Shachar is the author of Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women’s Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2001, 2009) - winner of the American Political Science Association Foundations of Political Theory Best First Book Award; The Birthright Lottery: Citizenship and Global Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2009) - named 2010 International Ethics Notable Book in recognition of its “superior scholarship and contribution to the field of international ethics;” The Shifting Border: Legal Cartographies of Migration and Mobility (Critical Powers Series, 2020); and the lead editor of the Oxford Handbook of Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2017, 2020) as well as over seventy-five articles and book chapters on citizenship theory, immigration law, multiculturalism and women’s rights, family law and religion in a comparative perspective, highly skilled migration, the shifting border and global inequality. She is the recipient of excellence awards in four different countries (Canada, Germany, Israel, and the United States), the most recent of which is the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize.
The discussion will be moderated by Cathryn Costello, Professor of Fundamental Rights and Co-Director of the Centre for Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School.
This event is part of the Debating Fundamental Rights event series hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights.
Prior registration is required and will be available soon.