Research Group

Borders and Memory

At the time of its establishment in 2024, the Research Group is identical to the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group "The Socio-Spatial Memory of European Borders: Dispositifs of Remembering and Forgetting". It investigates the significance of the social memory of borders for the everyday lives of the inhabitants of border regions. It conducts comparative international research and combines a spatial perspective with a sociology of knowledge perspective. In this way, the group fills a gap in theoretical concepts on the temporality of borders and the spatiality of memory processes. The research concentrates on twin towns and twin villages along various borders in the Schengen area, including the Polish-German, Swiss-German, Danish-German and Irish-Northern Irish borders. The focus is on powerful negotiation processes in the generation of knowledge as well as their legitimisation, institutionalisation and materialisation in everyday lifeworlds. Methodologically and methodically, the Research Group works in the qualitative paradigm and adapts visual, multimodal methods and mapping procedures, the research programme of grounded theory, as well as discourse-analytical and ethnographic procedures for spatial science research designs.

Current Projects

Disruptive events such as the reorganisation of borders after the Second World War have a profound impact on how societies and spaces change. This leads to a fundamental question: how do we remember these borders, and what influence does this memory have on the concept of a borderless Europe? The Emmy Noether Independent Junior Research Group "The Social-Spatial Memory of European Borders: Dispositifs of Remembering and Forgetting" explores how past disruptive events, such as wars, geopolitical conflicts and political unifications, have influenced the current state of borders. more

Head of Junior Research Group


24. November 2023 | News
Sociologist Vivien Sommer Receives Funding from DFG's Emmy Noether Programme

For a long time, Europe thought it was on the road to unification. Noticeable restrictions on mobility at intra-European borders were seen as a relic of the past. More recently, however, disruptive events such as the coronavirus pandemic and large-scale refugee movements have led to borders becoming more of an issue again. They were already present in the memories of people in border regions. From 2024, a new junior research group at the IRS will be investigating the "border memory" of the local population in four European border regions and exploring how it has been shaped over the course of history. more info