Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History


Boundaries are material and imaginative divisions of space and place. Boundaries are events that construct the social world in explicitly spatial terms, as in this is the boundary between “here” and “there”; and the spatial world in explicitly social terms, as in these people belong “here” and those people don’t belong “there.” As Casey observes, “Rather than being the zone in which human action gives out or comes to an end, the boundary is precisely where it intensifies: where it comes to happen in the most effective or significant sense” (2007, 508-509).

In Conversation with Other Crossings

All Bodies and Structures Crossings and tags invoke “Boundaries” in some way. As assemblages of human and non-human actors and objects, Environments may be relatively bounded (e.g., a laboratory) or unbounded (e.g., an oceanic zone), or may straddle other types of boundaries. Rationalities operate by producing their own boundaries between life and death (vital), connected and isolated (network), and classified and unclassified -- or perhaps known/knowable and unknown/unknowable (taxonomic). Figures emerge in relation to bounded spatial imaginaries (e.g., the invader, settler, native, or stranger; the gendered figure in relation to conceptions of inside/outside; or the mediator or gatekeeper as derived from points of transition); while Flows and Immobilities both condition and are conditioned by the development of boundaries. Vehicles convey people, things, and ideas across boundaries, translating between bounded zones as they move. Similarly, as ways of representing and othering spaces, places, and peoples, Imaginative Geographies produce and rely on boundaries.

What makes Boundaries distinct as a tag is its focus on the type of spatial inscription of the imagined division. That is, “Borders,” “Borderlands,” and “Thresholds” each invoke a distinct spatial relationship between “here” and “there.” With “Borders,” the line is distinct, though constantly subject to contestation and change. With “Borderlands,” there is a mixing, a Venn diagram of here and there, but the presence of the border is a condition of subjectivity for those inhabiting or invested in the borderland. For Thresholds, the space (and the subject who occupies it/constitutes it) is defined by what it emerges into. The threshold of the house, for example; or, the threshold of the river.


Casey, Edward S. “Boundary, Place, and Event in the Spatiality of History.” Rethinking History 11, no. 4 (2007): 507–12.

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