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Toward an Understanding of Borderland Processes

  • Bradley J. Parker (a1)

Although the study of frontiers is of fundamental importance to a variety of academic fields and subdisciplines, few researchers have proposed terminology, models or conceptual frameworks that allow a cross-disciplinary supra-regional comparison of frontier dynamics. In this paper I take three steps toward rectifying this situation. First, I propose a simplified lexicon that is widely applicable across disciplinary, temporal and regional divides. This lexicon is meant to be a starting point in defining boundary situations. Second, lay out a model, called the “continuum of boundary dynamics.” This model is meant to aid researchers in characterizing various types of boundary situations. And third, propose a model, called the “borderland matrix” with which to visualize the dynamic interaction between different categories of boundaries. This model is meant to aid researchers in isolating processes that occur in borderlands. It is my position that only through systematic comparisons of boundary situations at various times and locations can we hope to understand the processes that take place in borderlands. By defining and characterizing boundary situations and then isolating the processes taking place there, I believe that we will come much closer to understanding the common and unique themes that make frontier studies a central interregional and interdisciplinary subject of study.

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American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0002-7316
  • EISSN: 2325-5064
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