Keynote Speaker: NEW: Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola (University of Oulu)



Borders and resilience: The impact and strategies of coping with temporary border closures at the EU internal Finnish-Swedish border region



Scholars have documented the shift from “open borders” policy and cross-border cooperation towards heightened border securitization and the building of border walls. Since the 2015 migration influx, many countries in the European Union have continuously reintroduced the Schengen border controls meant to be temporary. Border controls were also introduced as a response to the COVID-19 all around the world, and the decision of closing borders was considered historically significant in many European borders that have been open for more than a half century.

The presentation discusses the impact of the border controls within the EU area from the perspective of border regional resilience with the focus on the Finnish-Swedish border. It provides a new understanding of the significance of borders and border crossing from the perspective of resilience and highlights the paradox of border securitization. In the presentation, I will move beyond the threat scenarios and analyse the resilience processes of borderland communities in the context of COVID-19 and 2015 asylum seeker reception at EU internal Finnish-Swedish border. The two examples of a border intervention are in many ways different, thus highlighting the complex and contextual nature of border controls and their ethical justifications. Moreover, border closures are presented as a way of responding to different experienced threats, however, the everyday practices and capacities of the border regions are highly dependent on border crossings and cross-border cooperation.

What makes the case of Finnish-Swedish border interesting is how, in a global perspective, Finland and Sweden, the two Nordic Countries, adapted very different COVID-19 strategies. Whereas in Sweden, the government and experts trusted more on the willingness and ability of the citizens to govern themselves, in Finland, alike in several other countries, the government imposed strict regulations on mobility and border control. The 2015 border intervention was also exceptional for Finland in many ways, however, from the perspective of regional resilience it raises different questions than the COVID-19 border intervention. The presentation scrutinizes the impact of restrictions in the Finnish-Swedish-Finnish border areas, especially in terms of how the local people were adapting to the situation, transforming their activities, and resisting the asymmetric border closure regulations. The view from border regions complicates the prevailing, territorially bounded understandings of resilience and valorizes the role of borders in resilience.

The study is based on the analysis of newspapers reports, social media debates both in Finland and Sweden, interviews, and participatory observations at the border crossing point between Tornio and Haparanda. The presentation will provide new understanding about the resilience of EU internal border regions, and discuss the impacts that the imposed border controls and securitization have on the Nordic and EU relations and solidarity more widely.  

Eeva-Kaisa Prokkola is a professor in human geography at the Univeristy of Oulu, specializing in regional development and regional policy and border studies. Her research and teaching interest include political geography, border region research, security and securitization, regional resilience, spatial identity, and the politics of mobilities (labour mobility, migration, tourism). She has published widely in international human geography and interdisciplinary social science journals on the topics of borders and border regions with the focus on European internal border regions. She is a co-author of Borderless Worlds for Whom (Routledge 2019).


Panel Discussion


The the roudtable discussion on EU Border Policies will be lead by Martin Bak Jørgensen, Martin Lemberg-Pedersen and Ariadna Servent in on Oct. 9, 2020. 



Martin Bak Jørgensen (Ph.D. Migration Studies) is Associate Professor affiliated with the DEMOS Research group at Aalborg University. His research encompasses the fields of sociology, political sociology, and political geography. Topics of focus include welfare, discrimination and inequality, migration, social movements, and solidarity practices. Over the last years he has been particularly interested in investigating how solidarity can manifest itself on different scales and how practices of solidarity can provide alternatives and spur social and political transformations. He has done analyses on refugee squats in Athens, the welcome refugee movements across Europe and institutionalised responses like the Refugee Plan of Barcelona. Currently he has started on a large project investigating the role and potential of sanctuary policies and practices on a global scale. He has published in journals like International Migration Review, Political Geography, Identities and Journal on International Migration and Integration. His book publications include Politics of Precarity together with Carl-Ulrik Scierup on Brill (2016), Solidarity without Borders Gramscian Perspectives on Migration and Civil Society Alliances edited with Óscar García Agustín on Pluto Press (2016). His latest book Solidarity and the 'Refugee Crisis' in Europe was published on Palgrave in 2019 co-written with Óscar García Agustín.

  Martin Lemberg-Pedersen is assistant professor at Global Refugee Studies (GRS), Department of Political Science, Aalborg University. He received his PhD from the Section of Philosophy, the University of Copenhagen.

His work revolves around interdisciplinary analyses of European and global border and displacement governance, with a particular focus on externalization, deportation, privatization and datafication. He has researched EU relations to Greek, Turkish and Libyan asylum and border politics, and European returns of unaccompanied minors to Afghanistan. He has had visiting fellowships at Refugee Studies Centre (RSC), Oxford University, Harokopio University Athens, and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi. His work has been published in journals like Global Affairs, Citizenship Studies, Journal of Borderlands Studies, Questions of International Law, Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics and Energy Policy.

  Ariadna Ripoll Servent has been Assistant Professor of Political Science and European Integration at the University of Bamberg since 2013. She is currently a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence and a visiting professor at the College of Europe in Bruges. Her research focuses on European integration, EU institutions, and EU internal security policies. Her work has appeared in numerous international journals, including West European Politics, Journal of European Public Policy and Journal of Common Market Studies.


SDU - Campusvej 55 - 5230 - Odense M -