08-09-07 // BORDER URBANISM
“Call for Submissions”- Poster for MONU #8, September 2007
By Bernd Upmeyer
One of the most grotesque effects of globalisation is that a process which is supposed to unify the world and bind people and the biosphere more tightly together into one global system, ended up increasing the amount of individual countries worldwide. When in 1983 the term “globalisation” was popularised through Theodore Levitt, only 159 countries were members of the United Nations. Today, we recognize 191 states. It has been speculated that there are still more than 200 unrecognised regions around the world which strive for seperation. Such a global particularisation process is going to produce large numbers of new political entities and new jurisdictions with thousands of kilometres of new borders, which will reshape entire regions and cities.
When cities are located close to borders, they often foster very specific economic features and urban anomalies, which can not be found in cities located in the very centre of a country. Wherever two jurisdictions come into contact, special economic opportunities arise. Cities in border regions may flourish because of the provision of excise or of import – export services – legal or quasi-legal, corrupt or corruption-free. Different regulations on either side of a border encourage services to position themselves in cities close to borders. The infamous prostitution clusters at the German – Czech border provides such a case. Human economic traffic across borders may involve also mass commuting between cities. Very extreme urban border cases can be witnessed specifically in cities along borders which separate First World from Third World countries. The conflicts at the US-Mexico border, for example, have transformed the city of San Diego into the world’s largest gated community.