Johanna Pettersson defends her thesis 2 November


Johanna Pettersson defends her thesis What’s in a Line? Making Sovereignty through Border Policy on 2 November at 13:15 in Brusewitzsalen, Östra Ågatan 19.

Johanna Pettersson Photo Tove Hellkvist

The external reviewer is Jussi Laine, Assistant Professor, Karelian Institute, University of Eastern Finland. Docent, Human Geography, esp. Border Studies, University of Oulu.

The members of the examining committee are Professor Kristina Boréus, Department of Government, Uppsala University, Professor Ann-Marie Ekengren, Department of Government, University of Gothenburg and Associate Professor David Jansson, Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University.


Johanna Pettersson

What’s in a line? In political science, borders are often used as the foundation on which we build our definition of sovereign states. Can state sovereignty be made through policies that aim to make borders more open?

Borders, visible as lines on a map, perform functions of inclusion and exclusion, and work as barriers or bridges for those who intend to pass them. The role that borders fulfil as the territorial demarcation between states is central to understanding modern statehood. This thesis focuses on the introduction of a local border traffic permit (grenseboerbevis) at the border between Norway and Russia. This introduction of local visa freedom is puzzling from a Norwegian perspective. The border towards Russia is laden with historical, geopolitical, and economic cleavages that could make an opening of the border a challenge to sovereignty. Nevertheless, in both Norway’s centre and borderland periphery, the introduction of this policy was regarded as a means of strengthening internal cohesion and improving bilateral relations with Russia. Thus, although the creation of a visa-free border zone changes what this line represents, it reproduces rather than weakens Norway’s territorial sovereignty.

The thesis shows that both centre and periphery perspectives are vital for studying border policies. The policies towards borders, in turn, are crucial for manifesting and reproducing state sovereignty.

Fulltext available on DiVA Open Access

Public Defences

Last modified: 2023-11-23