Disasters Across Borders: Borderlands as Spaces of Hope and Innovation in the Geopolitics of Environmental Disasters

  • John Hannigan


This chapter builds on Chris Rumford’s (Political Geography, 30, 67–8, 2011) proposal that we shift our emphasis from “seeing like a state” to “seeing like a border”. This entails thinking of borders as spaces in their own right (including “spaces of hope”); recognizing “bordering” activity as equally the business of state and non-state actors (NGOs, ordinary citizens); and treating “borderlands” as dynamic sites of discursive contestation and claims-making. Political geographers have identified a disjuncture between the notion of a borderless world in an age of globalization and the reality of state borders that are rapidly hardening due to economic protectionism, competition over new sources of petrochemical and mineral resources, anti-immigration sentiments, and concerns over terrorism. This is very much the case for the Asia Pacific region, which has become increasingly central to global commerce, politics and security. How then can inclusive and collaborative disaster governance networks and structures that extend across national borders be successfully created and sustained? To provide insight into the challenges of governing environmental disasters extending across national borders, the chapter draws upon recent research on sovereignty claims and clashes (especially in the Arctic, South China Sea and the Indian Ocean), transnational ocean governance, and escalating threats to deep sea and coastal ecosystems from overfishing, oil and gas drilling, underwater mining, and global climate change.


Borderlands Cross-border disasters Environmental geopolitics Globalization Transboundary governance 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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