Border studies has been established as a field first and foremost in social geography and in the social sciences. However, new forms of "border studies" (border theory, border poetics) with a stronger emphasis on culture, discourse and historical memory have emerged since the 1980’s.
Border studies today focuses on borders as dynamic phenomena of bordering, encompassing interdisciplinary perspectives from for example geography, politics, and sociology, and increasingly from cultural, literary and medial studies. Borders are increasingly seen as zones of negotiation, zones of articulation of belonging and of inscription, with cultural practices as an active part of this process.
Common themes in border studies are:
- the relationship between borders and construction of identity
- the dynamic nature of the process of bordering
- the dichotomy of the border’s function as a divide or a join
- processes of inclusion and exclusion, of group belonging, affiliation and membership, of selective mobility
- top-down and bottom-up forces in bordering processes
- the scaling of borders on macro and micro levels
- questions of sovereignity and states of exception