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Geopolitics in the forest: border of wilderness

Dr. Jakub Grygar (Karls-Universität Prag)

Guest lecture on Thursday, June 18th, 18:00-20:00, Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Stephanssaal, Postgebäude, Logenstr. 9-10

Based on ethnographic sketches from Bialowieza National Park (Poland, Belarus), I ask for character of the EU external border in this region. The lecture shows mutual interconnection of the Europeanization of Poland and its eastern border, othering of Belarus, and exotization of local population. Belarus with its political regime creates juxtaposition with the Bialowieza’s last European natural forest. On the one hand, in the eyes and practices of visitors of the Bialowieza National Park, the forest stands not only as a witness to the original state of nature, but also emerging as a relic of the recent political history of Poland. On the other hand, the juxtaposition is also actively used by local population for subversion of the state. I point out the various ways in which international borders are established. Bialowieza National Park and its politics of entry, material barriers, EU standards, both global and local arguments about how to protect the nature, political tensions between Poland and Belarus, and political interests, all this in different situations refers to and are linked to each other. These references and links are directly involved in the global, national, and local politics of borders creation or its reduction.