In a world in which sovereign nation-states are constantly trying to redefine their borders, thus challenging the existing geopolitical order, it is important to examine how they do this and to reexamine the definition of the concept of borders.
Gloria Anzaldua described the borderland as a hybrid space where states, cultures, and people meet; a living space in which constant movement takes place that creates new phenomena, identities, and possibilities and not only violence and horror.
Does this description apply to the Middle East, or do the borders and separations of various types in our region demarcate an impermeable line that blocks the field of vision and limits the possibilities of meeting? Perhaps in this sphere the border is not the “margin,” “the demarcation of the edge,” but rather the very heart of the story of the space.
In the conference titled Beyond Borders and Imagination: Documentary Film, Sovereignty, and Memory we will examine how documentaries—among the main sites in which contemporary culture is being shaped—address topics related to borders. Documentary films that deal with borders can point to real and imagined borders and sacred and secular ones, but they can also propose and expose—through the glances and voices of the separation areas and borders—the practices, ways of designing, and limitations of the states and regimes that create the borders.
The conference was inspired by volume 12 of the Takriv journal (edited by Yael Shenker, July 2016) on the topic of borders, which showed how in Israel, as in other places in the Middle East, it sometimes seems that documentary film not only records the spaces of separation and the borders but also tries to influence their design.