The everyday at the border: Examining visual, material and spatial intersections of international politics along the ‘Balkan Route’


This article examines the intersections between the visual, spatial and material and considers how these interactions capture the border politics of everyday ‘banal’ objects. We do this by looking at some of the objects and things that constitute the ‘Balkan Route’ through Europe: posters, signs, directions, notices, flyers and maps produced by state authorities and volunteer-led aid networks. We use objects to reflect more broadly on how seemingly banal and everyday things become incorporated into the political work of states and become constitutive of fluid borders. We argue that everyday objects become visualisations of states and authorities, and help to make and regulate physical spaces. We show how each visual object encountered along the route gives us a broader insight into the macropolitics of European border regimes, specifically the effects of ‘closed borders’ and the criminalisation of aid networks. The article pushes forward the ‘aesthetic turn’ debate in international relations by bringing in insights from political geography and materialism, and suggests that a walking methodology can be a productive way of encountering the visual and understanding how its physical location creates political effects.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Politics, History and International Relations
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Aston Centre for Europe
Additional Information: © Sage 2019. The final publication is available via Sage at
Uncontrolled Keywords: Borders,cities,everyday,space,visual politics,Social Sciences(all),Political Science and International Relations
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Related URLs: https://journal ... 010836719882475 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-03-01
Published Online Date: 2019-11-07
Accepted Date: 2019-08-28
Authors: Obradović-Wochnik, Jelena (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-0850-2737)
Bird, Gemma



Version: Accepted Version

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