Nested peripherialisation: remaking the East-West border in the Russian-Estonian borderland

2016-08-08T08:52:28Z (GMT) by Alena Pfoser
The break-up of the Cold War order, the eastwards expansion of the European Union into former socialist countries and the more recent economic and humanitarian crises have led to the emergence of new symbolic borders and the reconfiguration of spatial hierarchies within Europe. The article shows how metageographical categories of “Europe”, “East” and “West” and underlying classificatory logics are not only circulated in geopolitical discourses but can be appropriated by ordinary citizens in their everyday life. Using the Russian-Estonian border as a case study, the article examines the recursive negotiations of Europe’s East-West border by people living in the borderland as a response to the geopolitical changes. It highlights three border narratives – the narrative of becoming peripheral/Eastern, the narrative of becoming European, and a narrative contesting the East-West hierarchy by associating the East and one's own identity with positive things. On both sides of the border, the status as a new periphery does not create unity across the border but rather results in multiple and competing border narratives, in which “Europe” functions as an unstable referent in relation to which one’s position is marked out. This “nested peripherialisation” at Europe's new margins reflects power relations and uneven local experiences of transformation.