Are the European Union’s New Boundaries like the Iron Curtain? 1989, Borders and Freedom of Movement in Poland and Ukraine

  • Karolina Szmagalska-Follis


This essay looks back at the changes that unfolded in Central Europe since 1989 from the perspective of freedom of movement. The iconic tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the rapid openings in other socialist countries put an end to borders as “institutions of isolation.” In the course of the next two decades, ten postsocialist countries initiated and completed the process of joining the European Union (EU). The end of border controls and the ability to move freely within a unifying Europe was hailed as one of the main benefits of integration east of the former Iron Curtain. However, internal freedom of movement requires tight and secure external borders, such as the one that today divides Poland and Ukraine. In this essay, I draw on my research in those two countries to compare the socialist and the EU border regimes, the ways they have pervaded quotidian experience and the distinct modes in which they have imposed limitations on human mobility.


Border regime Iron curtain European Union Poland Ukraine Mobility 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyNational University of Ireland MaynoothMaynoothIreland

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