Between 3-5 August 2017, an International Conference called “Border History” was held at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center at Hokkaido University. Prof. Stefan Berger (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) gave a fascinating keynote speech about research methodologies for “border studies”. He regarded borders as dynamic rather than static, suggesting various perspectives with which to approach border studies. According to his presentation, there are many ways to view “borders”: socially, economically, legally, historically and even in the lens of gender studies. These perspectives can help us not only examine borders as a source of human conflict, but give us something to think about for the future.
Another keynote speech from Prof. Akihiro Iwashita (Hokkaido University) was about his own practices involving cultural and political exchange between local governments situated at national borders. In his practice, he tried to overcome border conflicts between Russia, Taiwan, Korea and Japan through the exchanges between inhabitants living within those nation’s borders. To me, the issue was attractive and challenging. Both presentations raised several compelling questions, and the notion of “border studies” led to discussions involving various disciplines, research themes and topics.
An assortment of subjects—such as Ancient Rome, Medieval Germany, the Kuril Islands, modern China, modern Poland, the Ya-Lu River, the Amur River and Finland—were included in the conference’s many presentations. Several discussions involving gender, food, poetry and violence were also brought up throughout the duration of the conference. Although the commentators’ fields differed from those of the speakers, they still put forth meaningful points during the presentation.
“Border History” and its myriad of participants taught me several important things: (1) to embrace interdisciplinary study, (2) to make connections between theory construction and fieldwork and (3) to decentralise thought. If we recognise and practice each of these three points in the context of “border studies”, we can develop the field to an even greater extent than it is now.
（Tatsushi Fujihara, Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University）