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Sapere aude

Arbitrary borders and borders of civilisation

Jacques Ancel mainly differentiates between two types of border. On the one hand, there are the so-called arbitrary borders, which are tense and strategic, resulting from military claims. The treaties that delineate these borders are temporal and purely based on the national interests of the states involved.

“Borders of civilisation”, on the other hand, are more permanent, since they are based on a memory, history and common language resulting from the balance achieved by a specific group of human beings. Such borders are “nevertheless more complicated, because they are subject to many political and commercial interpretations”. Even if commercial interpretations aim to “pave the way” and not to “enclose” as military interpretations do (Ancel 1938, 102-107), “paving the way” also means, in our current world, a conquest, an expansion, sometimes using military means, into the territory of others.


Borders and Identities: republished by "Nature & Cultures", Issue N°5

Family roots and core identity: a very personal view: seeing Prussia without complexes


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