University of Bucharest
"Bordering with Tito": Romanian borders under the pressure of the Soviet-Yugoslav conflict
Starting with the spring of 1948, the newly installed communist regimes were experiencing the first signs of insecurity. The growing personal and ideological conflict between the two communist leaders Iosip Broz Tito and Stalin brought important political changes to the entire block of popular democracies. The conflict put Romania in a difficult position, being obligated to respond to Yugoslavia from an enemy position. The pressure exercised on Romania was concentrated on the institutions which were assuring the borders' defense, mainly The National Quarters of Border Guard Troops, but also the internal intelligence agency and the army. The defense system of the borders was put to a systematic change by means of organization and personnel. In the first phase, the communist authorities reformed the old royal form of organization, while in the second phase they considered necessary to strengthen the borders due to a possible war against Yugoslavia. The reorganization of the system followed a pyramidal model, at the top contributed to a new ideological and conceptual perspective, while at the bottom influenced the activity of the small units and replacement of the soldiers. The new configuration transformed the Romanian -Yugoslavian border into a war zone, being deployed military technique (land mines, barbwire, and trenches) and being registered forcible removals, killings and kidnappings. The paper has as aim to identify the manner in which the borders' defense system was influenced by the new political environment, namely the totalitarian rule over the institutions and people lives. Based on a strong political discourse, strengthened by an overall reorganization, a system of "inner detention" was created, having as purpose the consolidation of "democratic achievements" against the imperialistic danger.
University of Vienna
When worlds collide: How German-Polish work ethics shape the European border regime
"Germans are hypercorrect and pedantic"; "Poles are inventive and know how to
improvise". "Germans are individualistic and European"; "Poles feel safe in their national collectivist haven". When observing the German-Polish border police cooperation from the middle of the 1990s to 2007, at a first glance, German and Polish ways of working appear to be incompatible. They are, however no natural givens, but, as this paper argues, strategies of self-staging that help the border guards cope with the differences they encounter when cooperating with the "Other". This staging of a conflicting working morale can be considered an effect of the social and institutional context the border guards are a part of: The confrontation of "Western" and "Eastern" imaginations, asymmetries and legacies under the common umbrella of the enlarging European Union.
The paper shows how German and Polish border guards develop informal strategies of action that rest upon a joint professional culture, leading to mutual trust and solidarity and a congruence of subjective professional honour and official mandate. By aligning their professional "Cop Culture" with the idea of an "Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice", the German-Polish border guard cooperation constitutes and reproduces an imagined European security community that is marked by mistrust towards everything outside that community. Drawing on ethnographic field research in German and Polish border police before Poland's full implementation of the Schengen acquis, the paper will discuss the framing of micro level interactions by institutional constraints.
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
The guarding and breaking of the Bulgarian-Turkish border in communist Bulgaria: Practices, experiences and memory traces
Soon after the establishment of communist rule in Bulgaria, the state frontier with Turkey turned into the most staunchly guarded frontier in Bulgaria, stimulated by the ideological interpretation of Turkey as an imperialist state that posed a direct threat on the entire socialist bloc. In the first post-war decade, the border was a possibility for a flight by Bulgarians and citizens of other socialist countries "to the West" (no matter that the direction was indeed Southeast) and by Bulgarian Muslims trying to start their lives anew in Turkey. Since early 1960s – in copy of the strategies applied with the Berlin Wall, a series of new measures were introduced by the communist state to make this border impermeable and to put the entire borderline area under strict supervision and control. The attempts for border crossing continued, however, providing various examples of attempts for breaking through, prosecutions, deaths and imprisonments. The goal of the current paper is to shed light on the practices of this border's guarding and breaking in the communist period and to revisit them through narratives and memory accounts from the period after 1989, when this border underwent through new functionalization and interpretation. Dwelling upon archival and fieldwork materials that address borderline cases of 1970s and early 1980s, the paper will focus particularly on memory accounts of people who have attempted to cross this border; testimonies of soldiers, whose army service passed along the frontier; and narratives of people living in the area who have observed (or have directly taken part) in attempts for border crossing. The focus will be on the traces that border guarding and crossing have left in the memories about those times; the divergence in the experiential reconstructions of past events; and the repercussion of this experience on its nowadays interpretations of this border.