May 18, 2021
Interviewer: RAFAEL KHACHATURIAN. As citizens and politicians in many countries argue passionately about how – or whether – national borders should be secured, they often share a similar set of assumptions: that borders are sharp boundaries enclosing distinct political communities, and that the choice of whether they are open or closed is largely binary. PAULINA OCHOA ESPEJO, author of the recent book On Borders, argues that these views are rooted in what she calls the “desert island” ideal of nationhood. In her discussion with political theorist Rafael Khachaturian, she offers an alternative, the “watershed model,” that, in addition to shifting our conceptions of nations and their boundaries, can be put to immediate work forging new ways to cooperate and negotiate with people of other places who share common resources. In addition to her appointment in the Political Science Department at Haverford College, Professor Ochoa is the 2020-21 ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Visiting Fellow at the Andrea Mitchell Center.