Borders: how they look and where they run

A cartographic and photographic exhibition by the Herder Institute in Marburg in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig.

Borders: how they look and where they run
Plakat zur Ausstellung

The political upheaval from 1989 to 1991 caused borders to once again become the subjects of historical science. In an age of increased mobility and European integration, the very phenomenon of borders has attracted new awareness; today, rather than being treated as divisions or barriers, they have gained importance in the context of cross-border cooperation and encounters.

The exhibition presents a collection of thematic maps of eastern Central Europe spanning the last two hundred years. It deals with the period between the divisions of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century and the approach of the East Central European states towards joining the European Union. Around forty panels depict how borders in eastern Central Europe were drawn up and have since been altered. The exhibition is intended to inspire exploration of the various explanations for these changes and also to provide insight into how the fates of the local communities have been affected. The subject matter is illustrated both through maps that show the whole of eastern Central Europe and those that focus on individual countries and smaller regions like, for example, Galicia or Upper Silesia. Various maps showing administrative boundaries and historical church maps are exhibited, as well as those demarcating borders of nationality and language, which are closely linked to political geography and were often used as tools of propaganda.

The map display will be complemented by recent photographs by Christoph Waack (Leipzig) – striking snapshots that depict various borders scenes in eastern Central Europe: high-security border strips, for instance between Poland and the Kaliningrad region of Russia, that were just as effective as barriers as were roads that were turned into dead ends. However, there are also images of more permeable borders, like the boundary between Germany and Poland on the island of Usedom, which is simply marked by separated posts, or the road bridge over the Narva between Estonia and Russia.

Dates of the exhibition

01.03.2002 – 30.04.2002
Herder-Institut, Marburg
06.12.2001 – 18.01.2002
Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, Düsseldorf