Beyond the Straight State: On the Borderlands of Sexuality, Ethnicity, and Nation in the United States and Europe

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Amidon, Kevin
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World Languages and Cultures
The Department of World Languages and Cultures seeks to provide an understanding of other cultures through their languages, providing both linguistic proficiency and cultural literacy. Majors in French, German, and Spanish are offered, and other coursework is offered in Arabic, Chinese, Classical Greek, Latin, Portuguese, and Russian
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Borderlands-limned, delimited, and defined by the presence, imaginary presence, or absence of geospatial boundaries contingent upon state power have many representations. Positive and negative state sanction through rights, privileges, policing, or enforcement are often determined by a person's position with respect to such boundaries. Sometimes such boundaries, like the borders of nation-states that generally define citizenship, seem to have taken on nearly immutable fixity. The historical processes through which institutional structures accredited to these questions of space and sanction began to take their modem shape in the eighteenth century. Often, however, borderlands are more imagined than physical, more contingent upon concepts and identifications than upon fixed geospatial boundaries. Daniel T. Rodgers's expression of this polyvalent issue is clear and succinct: '"Borderlands' is a word of multiple and competing uses, some of which extend far beyond its core, geographic meanings into a general cultural metaphor." Such metaphorical borderlands, spheres of imaginary and contingent action, represent the sites of complex and multi-layered processes of institutional and self-identification like ethnicity. Any successful exploration of the relationships between nation and ethnicity must therefore reflect how the geophysical borderlands of states and institutions shade over into the conceptual and metaphorical borderlands of individual and group identities.


This is a chapter from Brian D. Behnken and Simon Wendt, eds. Crossing Boundaries: Ethnicity, Race, and National Belonging in a Transnational World (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013): 301-19, reproduced by permission of Rowman & Littlefield.

Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2013