Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Crossroads and Boundaries

Next January in Austin, Texas, USA, the Society for Historical Archaeology will hold a conference with the theme "Boundaries and Crossroads in Action." Cool topic. Boundaries and crossroads are filled with "exchanges, conflicts, challenges" for sure, especially over (or through) time. Archaeology can mine the layers, or you can just go out to a crossroads and observe for yourself. The theme has also been receiving some attention in art, communications theory and psychology.

Boundaries can be big, like an international frontier, or small, like a street or road dividing city and suburb. Some places are porous, and some are more locked down. Mack Avenue in Detroit is porous; the 38th parallel dividing Korea is locked down. Going back to frontier days in North America (or anywhere else), crossroads and boundaries entailed a lot of unpredictability and interaction -- and instability. Since recorded history began, border towns and port cities have tended to be wilder and rougher, less sheltered than interior towns, though even deep in the interior of many places, strange things have happened near crossroads and on the "inside" of boundaries.

I can think of a bunch of ways this all applies, but for one, think of how people in the recent past (and in many places, still) would make a booze run from "dry" areas to "wet" areas, and all that entailed with policing, risk, danger and excitement! Think of gobs of youthful travellers crossing from Michigan into Canada or Amsterdam to skirt laws enforced within their home boundaries . . . and you get the idea. Think race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, profession, organization, etcetera, and the possibilities for exploration and storytelling are as boundless as Médecins Sans Frontières . . .

Today's Rune: Partnership.


Luma Rosa said...

Erik, the limits are imposed by our ignorance! Imagination and knowledge sets us free!
Ah, asked my twitter and facebook, both Luzdeluma.
I have appeared, busy life! My mother passed away and I'm struggling with the inventory - the process of division of property. Soon my blog life back to normal. Beijus,

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Lana Gramlich said...

Boundaries are found in abundance in our dreams--trust me on that one--boundaries, blockages & problems to overcome. I'd never thought about it much until I really started working with my own dreams.