Governing Through the Border: (Post)colonial Governmentality in Gibraltar

Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology book series (PSEPS)


This chapter offers a critical analysis of the functioning of the border dividing Gibraltar from Spain. Whereas the management of this frontier is frequently contested by the inhabitants and the government of the Rock, and often causes tense disputes between the UK and Spain, this chapter challenges views of the border as a threat or an obstacle to the normalisation of political life in the tiny enclave. Here, Gibraltar is analysed instead as a microstate whose inhabitants’ identity and practices of self-government generate from the border—rather than in opposition to it. By concentrating on the period when the frontier between Gibraltar and the neighbouring Spanish town of La Línea de la Concepción was closed by Franco’s regime, we show how the tightening of the frontier allowed the discursive production of a Gibraltarian national identity as distinct from that of the Spanish neighbours–as well as, partly, from that of the British colonial masters—that played a central role for the partial decolonisation of Gibraltar. Here, we discuss the border between Gibraltar and the Spanish town of La Línea as a security apparatus that stays at the foundations of Gibraltarians’ ambiguous articulation of independent self-government and British control.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  2. 2.Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  4. 4.University of the Basque Country UPV/EHUVizcayaSpain

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