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Max O. Stephenson and Laura Zanotti: Building walls and dissolving borders

    Building walls and dissolving borders

Walls play multiple social, political, economic and cultural roles and are linked to the fundamental question of how human beings live together. Globalization and urbanization have created high population density, rapid migration, growing poverty, income inequality and frequent discontent and conflict among heterogeneous populations. The writers in this volume explore how walls are changing in this era, when social “containers” have become porous, proximity has been redefined, circulation has intensified and the state as a way of organizing political life is being questioned. The authors analyze how walls articulate with other social boundaries to address feelings of vulnerability and anxiety and how they embody governmental processes, public and social contestation, fears and notions of identity and alterity.

This book's authors explore walls as the consequence of a changing web of social relationships. Whether walls are physical objects on the landscape or metaphors for difference among specific groups or communities, the writers consider them as heterotopias, powerful sites around which ways of living together are contested and transformed. They also investigate how architectural planning concerning walls may de facto become a means of waging war, as well as how demolishing walls may give way to new ways of imagining security.


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Max O. Stephenson

    Max O. Stephenson

Dr. Max Stephenson Jr., Professor of Public and International Affairs, joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1989. He has taught civil society and nonprofit and nongovernmental organization and public policy related courses since. He also serves as the Director of the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance, university research center. His current research interests include peacebuilding, democratization and development, community change processes, nonprofit and nongovernmental organization governance, international humanitarian relief and disaster risk reduction and arts and cultural development. Professor Stephenson has published widely in a number of leading academic journals.


Laura Zanotti

    Laura Zanotti

Laura Zanotti, Associate Professor of Political Science, joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2006. Her research and teaching include critical political theory as well as international organizations, UN peacekeeping, democratization and the role of NGOs in post-conflict governance. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Zanotti worked for more than 10 years at the United Nations, she served in peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Croatia (where she was the deputy Head of Mission), she was a Jean Monnet Fellow at The European University Institute.


Visible Scholarship Initiative

The Visible Scholarship Initiative is a collaboration between the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and the University Libraries that seeks to make visible the stages of research and creative scholarship in the liberal arts and human sciences. Illustrating how faculty address key questions, employ varied methods, and produce significant results makes it possible to acknowledge and encourage research and creative activities that engage challenging questions and demonstrate sophisticated understanding.