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Imagining a politics of relation: Glissant’s border thought and the German border

Moses März


This study explores the theoretical and political potentials of Édouard Glissant’s philosophy of relation and its approach to the issues of borders, migration, and the setup of political communities as proposed by his pensée nouvelle de la frontière (new border thought), against the background of the German migration crisis of 2015. The main argument of this article is that Glissant’s work offers an alternative epistemological and normative framework through which the contemporary political issues arising around the phenomenon of repressive border regimes can be studied. To demonstrate this point, this article works with Glissant’s border thought as an analytical lens and proposes a pathway for studying the contemporary German border regime. Particular emphasis is placed on the identification of potential areas where a Glissantian politics of relation could intervene with the goal of transforming borders from impermeable walls into points of passage. By exploring the political implications of his border thought, as well as the larger philosophical context from which it emerges, while using a transdisciplinary approach that borrows from literary and political studies, this work contributes to ongoing debates in postcolonial studies on borders and borderlessness, as well as Glissant’s political legacy in the twenty-first century.

Keywords: Édouard Glissant, politics of relation, Germany, border regime
AJOL African Journals Online