Breaching Boundaries Introduction


  • Nick Mansfield Macquarie University


We live in an era of the deconstruction of borders. Deconstruction does not abolish or erase principles or identities. It shows up their contingency, even as they continue to operate, sometimes more ruthlessly than ever. Deconstruction has a logic of “both/and”: things are both fixed and unstable, both true and meaningless, both self-identical and in an irreducible relationship with the other. Indeed, in deconstruction, self-identity arises only in relation to what is different, what is distinct from you and in distinguishing you, becomes a necessary part of what you are. We live in an era of the deconstruction of borders because we know that borders are constructions, the consequence of historical decisions by colonial administrators as they abandoned ex-colonies to their fate, or the outcome of wars fought to a standstill here at this particular point rather than somewhere else, or the result of the more or less accidentalchoice of one geographical feature—a mountain range or river—as a natural boundary between ethnic groups, themselves constructions of a similar kind of historical contingency. Yet, borders are both constructions and fixtures, both contingent and eternal. It's easy to draw attention to their contingency, yet they still hurt, and the current suffering of refugees is the most pressing present example of their cruelty. Borders are both accidental and fixed, both arbitrary and rigid, both inviting and excluding. Nothing is more typical of their present deconstructed state than the contradiction in their nature in the contemporary world.

Author Biography

Nick Mansfield, Macquarie University

Nick Mansfield is Dean of Higher Degree Research and Professor of Critical and Cultural Studies atMacquarie University. His books include The God Who Deconstructs Himself: Subjectivity andSovereignty Between Freud, Bataille and Derrida (2010), and Theorizing war: From Hobbes to Badiou(2008).


How to Cite

Mansfield, N. (2016). Breaching Boundaries Introduction. Humanity, 1–7. Retrieved from