The Covid-19 pandemic reorganized the lives of the inhabitants of European societies in many ways, leading, among other things, to the closure and introduction of restrictions on the internal borders of the European Union, thus altering one of its key dimensions, freedom of movement (Genschel & Jachtenfuchs 2021). The Polish-German border was also closed, resulting in the division of dozens of rural communities, several two-towns, difficulties in commuting for roughly two hundred thousand Poles, the inability to access educational services, to shop in the usual way, the separation of families, and the emptying and loss of importance of the nodal public spaces in the divided cities serving the aforementioned types of exchange (Henning 2021: 863-864). The research conducted so far (Opiłowska 2020; Henning 2021) provides important conclusions about the effects of the COVID-19 border closure on relations in the Polish-German borderland but focuses on their socio-economic dimension (effects on the local economy and households), political dimension (is it the end of Europe without borders?), and the perspective of sustaining cross-border cooperation (between representatives of public and civil institutions). But we still know little about the consequences of closing the borders on the identity of the inhabitants and the spatial specificity of the borderland. There is a lack of analyses that would focus on the residents' perspective. In my presentation, I would like to fill this gap and thus answer the question of how the coronavirus pandemic and the associated border closures affected the identity of the borderlands. This question entails answering three other specific questions: How is borderland identity shaped? What impact did the border closure during Covid-19 have on the identity of the Polish-German borderland? How was the identity of this borderland reconstructed during Covid-19?
Maciej Frąckowiak – sociologist, assistant professor at the Faculty of Sociology, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań and lecturer at Design Department, SWPS University in Warsaw. He is interested in urban sociology, sociology of architecture and urban planning, visual research, and sociology of culture. He participated in many research projects concerning architecture, culture, and border studies. He currently participates in the international research project: ‘De-Re-Bord’ (where he researches Polish-German borderland).