The research activities of the UniGR-Center for Border Studies are concentrated on various thematic focuses. Internally, they constitute the framework for the strategic development of the cross-border network as well as structuring the activities of the members of the UniGR-CBS. Externally, they increase the visibility of the UniGR-CBS and facilitate the partnership with partners on tangible issues and topics.

Spatial Planning and Learning Regions at the Border

The Border Studies Seminar about “Learning Border Regions – what border regions can learn from each other” took place in 23-24 May 2019 in Saarbrücken. About 40 researchers from the UniGR-CBS partner universities attended the event, to discuss the gripping topic of “Learning Border Regions”.

Members of the UniGR-CBS

Cross-Border Territorial Development – Challenges and Opportunities

The spatial development of cities and regions is influenced by trends such as climate change, demographic shifts and structural change, which do not stop at administrative boundaries but shape the development of larger territories. This topic is examined from different perspectives by European scientists in the first issue of Borders in Perspective.

Cross-border Planning Cultures and Processes


Working Group Spatial Planning

The UniGR-CBS working group Spatial Planning  involves researchers from six universities within the Greater Region. Their focus is on cross-border spatial planning, planning cultures and practices, transnational and intercultural learning, and spatial development in the Greater Region Saar-Lor-Lux+.

The Border Studies Seminar about “Planning culture in the cross-border regions”, took place on February 27th and 28th 2020. The objective of the seminar was to deliver knowledge regarding planning cultures and to place them in the interdisciplinary context of cross-border studies.

Members of the UniGR-CBS

In this thematic issue, strategies and concepts from cross-border spatial development are presented and highlighted, which deal with different topics of spatial development, reflect a spectrum of cross-border forms of cooperation and organization and discuss the added value.

Mobility and Cross-border Transport

The Border Studies Seminar about “Long-term challenges of cross-border mobility in the Greater Region”, took place online on 8 and 9 June 2020. This new format was chosen in response to the health crisis and the constraints imposed on participants in the different parts of the Greater Region. This edition of the seminar was devoted to the long-term challenges linked to cross-border mobility in the Greater Region, with a particular focus on the relationship between this mobility and the organization of work in this territory.

Spatial distribution of employment and commuting modes for active workers in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

Analysing the database of the Luxmobil 2017 survey, this article presents the main outcomes concerning the spatial distributions of employment and modal choices related to commuting of both resident and cross-border workers within the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

This dissertation by Beate Caesar explores the influence of these the two EU policies European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) and the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) on cross-border transport and further European integration.

Members of the UniGR-CBS

Territorial Science Echo: Mobility, transport infrastructure and public transport

The working paper examines the theme of mobility and transport and addresses the challenges of spatial development in the Greater Region. It focuses in particular on the territorial distribution of cross-border worker flows and their dependence on the car within the Greater Region, as well as on the influence of European policy on the challenges of cross-border transport.

Literature and Representations of Borders


The Border Studies Seminar about “Border Literature” took place online on 21 and 22 May 2021. The objective of the seminar is to explore the ways in which the border is written and represented. In what way does literary creation constitute a means of access to the ideality of places, to the imaginary of territory, to the border paradigm? Can we say, as Bertrand Westphal asserts, that “fiction does not reproduce reality, but rather actualizes virtualities that have not been expressed until now, which then interact with reality”?

Members of the UniGR-CBS

UniGR-CBS working group Bordertextures

Ther focus of this working group is on cultural studies approaches to border studies with the aim of gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the (re)production of borders and their (re)presentations, and thus enriching the often over-simplified discussions about border (region) issues.

AG Bordertextures

Borders Literary Prize – Leonora Miano

In 2021, the Université de Lorraine, in collaboration with the University of the Greater Region, is launching the first edition of the literary prize “Borders”, dedicated to the writer Léonora Miano. The prize will be awarded for five consecutive years to the best novel of the year dealing with the theme of borders. The prize is awarded each year during the Festival Le Livre à Metz- Littérature & Journalisme.

Prix littéraire

Bordertexturen als transdisziplinärer Ansatz zur Untersuchung von Grenzen

This article is intended as a workshop report and provides initial insights into the development of a cultural studies-oriented approach to the study of border (space) concepts. (Article in German)

Borders in Crises and Crises of Borders

The 9th Seminar of the UniGR-Center for Border Studies organised by Saarland University took place on-site (D4.1) and online on the 11th and 12th May 2023. This UniGR-CBS Border Seminar “Borders in Crisis” brought together topics focusing on borders and crisis from American, European, and global perspectives.

Emergencies and border

The 10th Seminar of the UniGR-Center for Border Studies organised by the Université de Lorraine took place the 9th and 10th November 202 in Metz. The seminar is the first in the series “Emergencies and borders” as part of a teaching-research program of the Centre interdisciplinaire d’études et de recherches sur l’Allemagne (2023-2035), jointly organized by the UniGR-CBS partners Université de Lorraine and Saarland University

Members of the UniGR-CBS

Border Realities 2023/2024: Crises, Resistances, Silences

The 2023/2024 edition of the online lecture series “Border Realities” explores the concept and phenomenon of crisis from a border studies and borderlanders’ perspectives. By zooming in on crises of borders and in borderlands, the speakers thereby show how border realities can constitute a primary positionality to rethink and problematize the concept and phenomenon of crisis.

Understanding Russia’s War in Ukraine

Border scholars Astrid M. Fellner and Eva Nossem have talked to three Ukrainian researchers: Julia Buyskykh, Alina Mozolevska, and Oleksandr Pronkevich, who share their views on the entanglements of borders, identity, and the war, as they try to make sense of the new realities. This UniGR-CBS working paper addresses the many geopolitical, social, and existential questions about borders and identity in the current war, also analyzing the role that academia plays in this war.

The project is conducted under the leadership of Prof. Fellner at Saarland University by border researchers from Petro Mohyla Black Sea National University, Mykolaiv, Ukraine, who are currently guest researchers at Saarland University. Through this collaboration, the cooperation relations between the UniGR-Center for Border Studies at Saarland University and their partner university in Mykolaiv is to be strengthened, particularly in this difficult time of war.

closed border

Conference Border Renaissance

Borders are once again facing a new visibility and attention. This development in society and politics was the focus of the international conference “Border Renaissance” on February 4 and 5, 2022. The event of border scholars from the Greater Region, who collaborate in the UniGR-Center for Border Studies, focused on the new importance of borders in European border regions and on a global level.

Borders in Pandemic Times

These and other events in the wave of the COVID 19 pandemic gave rise to the online roundtable discussion on 28 May 2020, which was organized with the support of the University of the Greater Region as part of the conference series “Border Realities: Challenges and Perspectives in Uncertain Times”. Together with almost 100 participants from civil society, cross-border cooperation, administration and students, the experts discussed the current everyday realities, citizens initiatives, dynamics of concertation and the future of cross-border cooperation.

closed border

Covid-19 and the European idea

In the edited book “Pandemic Virus – National Action”, the border closures in Europe are reflected three years after the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic. The authors show from different disciplinary angles how the border closures were experienced and how they affected the European idea. The book integrates many contributions authored by UniGR-CBS members.

closed border

Border Gallery „Covid-19 Borders“

In March and April 2020, Marco Kany documented the borders between Saarland and Grand Est. The series of photographs shows until then unthinkable images in the Greater Region and how people lived with closed borders. In the resulting video “Border Closures 2020” Marco Kany explains his motivation and experiences during the photo expedition along the border.

Border regions in times of the Covid-19 pandemic

The year 2020 challenged and put into question seeming certainties. The nation states responded to the spread of the coronavirus with varying restrictions of freedom(s), as well as temporary reintroduction of border controls or closures. 35 years after the signing of the Schengen Agreement, the issue of internal border controls within the EU resurfaced – with varying effects on border regions. Buildung upon a constructivistic perspective and based on a qualitative content analysis of newspaper articles of the Saarbrücker Zeitung in spring 2020, the Working Paper traces central discussion processes with a spatial focus on the cross-border area of the Greater Region.

closed border

New UniGR-CBS release: Bordering in Pandemic Times

In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, borders have become relevant (again) in political action and in people’s everyday lives within a very short time. This was especially true for the inhabitants of border regions, whose cross-border life worlds were suddenly irritated by closed borders and police controls. The authors shed light on these dynamics from the perspective of territorial borders, social boundaries and (dis)continuities in border regions through a variety of thematic and spatial approaches.

girl on the window

Borders and Languages

The pandemic of nationalism and the nationalism of pandemics

In current times, the coronavirus is spreading and taking its toll all over the world. Inspite of having developed into a global pandemic, COVID-19 is oftentimes met with local national(ist) reactions. This paper aims at laying bare the interconnectedness of these geopolitical and linguistic/discursive rebordering politics. It questions their efficacy and makes a plea for cross-border solidarity.

UniGR-CBS working group GRETI

Since 2010 the GRETI, a strategic partner of the UniGR-Center for Border Studies has brought together lecturer-researchers from three countries (Germany, France, Luxembourg) and a range of different scientific disciplines (geography, Romance linguistics/language teaching and learning, ethnolinguistics, management sciences, sociology). GRETI’s primary objective is to examine the issue of borders from an integrated and holistic perspective.

Members of the UniGR-CBS

Cross-border Labor Market and Cross-border Workers

Borders and Cross-Border Labor Markets: Opportunities and Challenges

The object of the current Thematic Issue is not to focus on the individuals (the cross-border commuters) but on the organization of the  cross-border labor markets.

Les travailleurs frontaliers au Luxembourg et en Suisse : Emploi, Quotidien et Perceptions

Small countries with significant labor needs, Luxembourg and Switzerland both attract a large number of cross-border workers. To compare the two, the 19 authors contributing to this thematic issue analyzed the situation of border workers in the main cross-border employment areas (Luxembourg, Basel, Geneva), and also in Ticino.

Cross-border workers in Switzerland and Luxembourg

The interdisciplinary conference on “Cross-border workers in Switzerland and Luxembourg: Employment – Everyday Life – Perceptions” took place on 24/10/2017 and examined the cross-border worker situation in Switzerland and Luxembourg from a variety of perspectives. Contrasts were drawn, highlighting the respective common features and differences as well as the opportunities and challenges.

UniGR-CBS working group Labour and Education

The working group Cross-border Labour and Education was established in March 2015 in the context of the University of the Greater Region-Center for Border Studies. It consist of researchers from six universities of the Greater Region, working in different disciplines (geography, cultural and language studies, socio-economy…).

Members of the UniGR-CBS

In the chapters of the new book on cross-border workers, the concept of “familiar strangers” is elaborated: These “strangers” who come to Switzerland from the other side of the border and become at simultaneously a familiar part of a transborder space that they use and recreate every day through their employment, social relations, consumption and leisure activities.

people in the city center

Cross-border Life Worlds and Everyday Cultures

Les pratiques du quotidien transfrontalières dans la Grande Région SaarLorLux

This paper analyses everyday practices carried out by the residents of the Saarland, Lorraine, Luxembourg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Wallonia in the neighbouring regions abroad. The key assumption is the consideration that the inhabitants of the Greater Region SaarLorLux define the transborder reality of life of this region through their cross-border performance of everyday practices.

cross-border flags

Daily reality and political constructs in border regions

How do cross-border regions come about and what characterises them? The 19 contributors to this collection examine the social experience of the EU’s internal borders through the example of the SaarLorLux Greater Region.

Lego Family

The 16 book authors reconstruct experiences with and due to borders in the context of various forms of migration and mobility as well as language contact situations as well as looking at the scope for action of those involved. In this way in the twelve contributions everyday border usage or appropriation strategies are identified empirically as highly diverse experiences of borders.

EU flag

Cross-border residential mobility appeared in the wake of the formal opening of European borders and is mainly brought about by national disparities in the real estate market in border regions. In the last 10 to 15 years we observe considerable residential flows from Luxembourg to its neighbouring countries which bring about major changes in the spatial and social composition of border towns. The research project CB-RES investigates the experiences and identity constructions of cross-border migrants as well as of autochthonous inhabitants in German border villages.


The UniGR-Center for Border Studies and its partners in France and Luxembourg are part of the European Capital of Culture 2022. On the occasion of the designation of Esch-sur-Alzette as “European Capital of Culture”, the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, the University of Lorraine and the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles have developed the multifaceted project “Memories, Images and History across Borders”.

Realities, perceptions and representations of borders.

How are borders experienced? This book takes a decentred and cross-border approach, crossing scientific disciplines and national perspectives. A first part is devoted to representations, a second to the labour market and training, and a third to spatial planning. The contributions as a whole offer a picture of the complexity of these borders.


Cross-border Cooperation

Funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (project key 01UC2104), the network project ‘Linking Borderlands: Dynamics of Cross-Border Peripheries’ undertakes a comparative analysis of two borderland regions, one in south-western, one in eastern Germany: the so-called Greater Region on the borders of Belgium, France, Germany, and Luxembourg, and the Brandenburg-Lubuskie Region straddling the German-Polish border. The Working Paper outlines the background to EU borderland cooperation and sketches some central lines of development taken by border studies, before presenting its five constituent perspectives.

closed border

The Covid-19 pandemic and the related border restrictions have had numerous social, economic and political consequences for border regions. The aim here is to investigate the communication surrounding the pandemic and the reactions and (new) strategies of cross-border institutional actors in the context of (re)bordering. Applying the concept of resilience, this paper explores coping mechanisms and modes of adaptation as well as strategies developed to adjust to new circumstances.


The joint project “Linking Borderlands: Dynamics of Cross-Border Peripheries”- funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) – focusses on European border regions as zones of contact and transition at the fringes of the nation states. From such a perspective, continuing development paths and upheavals in so-called borderlands can be highlighted. The common ground is provided by the field of Border Studies, which has developed a strong constructivist tradition since the 1990s, thus allowing for an interdisciplinary approach to border issues.

Members of the UniGR-CBS

Cross-border areas are often presented as “laboratories of European integration”. Beyond the speeches and the symbols, what actual meaning lies beneath the notion of the “cross-border region”? Based on work done for a PhD by Estelle Evrard, this monograph sets out the challenges in the construction of cross-border governance. The analysis largely focuses on the Greater Region.

Members of the UniGR-CBS

The UniGR-CBS colleagues of the International Planning Systems Department of the Technische Universität Kaiserslautern initiated and headed the working group “Border Futures – Future Viability of Cross-border Cooperation” of the Hesse/Rhineland-Palatinate/Saarland Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft of the Akademie für Raum- und Landesplanung (ARL) together with Andrea Hartz from agl Hartz ⋅ Saad ⋅ Wendl.

Territorial borders as practice

Ulla Connor is a sociologist and completed her PhD in 2022 at the University of Luxembourg with a praxeological study of territorial borders in the empirical field of cross-border cartography. She is a member of the UniGR-CBS Working Group Spatial Planning and talked to the UniGR-CBS about her latest publication.

Migration and Borders

Weaponizing migration and reinforcing border protection

Up until May 2021, the post-election insecurity in Belarus had mostly been a national affair, but with Lukashenka’s regime starting to retaliate against foreign actors, the crisis internationalised. This article from Jordi Bakker follows the development of Belarus-Lithuania border dynamics between the 2020 Belarusian presidential election and the start of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

B/Orders are (not) everywhere (for everyone)

While the materialities and functionalities of borders have changed drastically in recent decades, the ordering principle of the border persists. At the same time, the selective character of borders is emerging with a clarity that has hardly been seen in Europe before. This is the point of departure for the issue papers, which discuss the observation that borders do not have the same significance for all people.

Ever since the 19th century, migratory movements have always played a fundamental role in the upheavals in a Greater Region marked by its borders. The Schengen Agreement facilitated freedom of movement within Europe, but shifted the issue of mobility to the outer edges of the EU. The Forum Greater Region tool place on 14/03/2019 in the Greater Region House.

Members of the UniGR-CBS

Fundamental Research

Transformation of the border and new conceptual challenges

For the past two decades, a resurgence of borders has been observed. The online lecture series aims to discuss the transformation of the border by means of empirical case studies as well as conceptual issues. The public lecture series 2022/2023 was organised by the UniGR-Center for Border Studies (University of Luxembourg) and the Centre for Regional and Borderlands Studies at the Institute of Sociology (University of Wrocław).

Identities and Methodologies of Border Studies

This thematic issue addresses these desiderata and brings together articles that deal with their (inter)disciplinary foundations as well as method(olog)ical and practical research questions. The authors also provide sound insights into a disparate field of work, disclose practical research strategies, and present methodologically sophisticated systematizations.

Atelier Bordertextures

Atelier Bordertextures aims to unite theoretical and methodological lectures by researchers undertaking conceptual examinations of borders and border regions and their cultural representations. These lectures offer insights into and disclose bordertexture-related issues and illustrate disciplinary relationships and interdisciplinary connections.

The series consists of five thematically linked workshops in which young and established scientists from Germany, France and Luxembourg participate. The workshops each focus on a specific aspect of the analysis of Border Complexities and are intended to further develop a less noticed trend in border research.

The conference aimed to sound out its potential for theoretical and conceptual discussion, as well as for empirical research into border phenomena. The lectures dealt with conceptual considerations relating to borderscapes and/or specific case-studies that demonstrate how border formation can be investigated and described in various areas.

Interdisciplinary Discussion of Borders

The first Border Studies seminar on the theme of “Spatial, social and linguistic borders”, which took place under the responsibility of Grégory Hamez, was organised by the University of Lorraine. It took place on 11 and 12 June 2018 in the Abbey of the Premonstratensians of Pont-à-Mousson and brought together about 40 researchers on the borders of the Greater Region and beyond.

Members of the UniGR-CBS

Border studies is an interdisciplinary research field in which scholarship has primarily been spatially oriented. The international conference “Borders In Flux and Border Temporalities In and Beyond Europe” focused on research on the temporal dimension of borders by exploring border practices, border discourses, and analyses of border regimes and life at the border.

Border research has undergone profound changes in the last few decades, which has altered the study of national borders as unchallenged phenomena. The recently published edited book follows this development and examines the connection between spaces, orders and interdependencies. In 18 contributions, the authors explore the question of how borders “take place” today and what relations exist between spaces and orders.

The “Crossing Borders – GRETI Border colloquiums” consisted of the organisation of a several two-day colloquiums (2015-2016) under the aegis of the GRETI (interdisciplinary cross-border research group). The aim was to develop, within the scope of the UniGR-Center for Border Studies, interdisciplinary perspectives on border-related issues and to generate cooperation between academics from the UniGR partner universities.

Members of the UniGR-CBS

The second UniGR-CBS seminar was organised at the University of Trier under the direction of Professor Antje Bruns. This seminar, which was mainly methodological in nature, focused on cooperation between researchers in the field of studies on border areas. To do this, we adopted a dual perspective.

Members of the UniGR-CBS
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