Reconfiguring Borders in Philosophy, Politics, and Psychoanalysis

fundamental research project
Basic Info


The 20th century ended with the announcement of the realization of two great utopias: the end of history and a borderless world. The beginning of the 21st century announced the end to these utopias. Far for creating a borderless world, contemporary globalization has generated a proliferation of borders. Instead of fewer lines of division, boarders have spread and colonized virtually all aspects of our life. One of the main objectives of the proposed project is to scrutinize the very concept of “border”, its functions, and historical development at its very core in politics, philosophy, science, history, psychoanalysis.

The proposed project will address the problem of borders from three distinct, yet interconnected perspectives:

1) From a political perspective, the  objective of the proposed project is to provide an in-depth inquiry into the current transformations of borders, their ubiquity, heterogeneity and polysemy in order to highlight the ways in which spaces at the margins of Europe have been created, negotiated,  and transformed by the antithetical patterns of “border crossing” and “border reinforcement”. Based on the thus traced out topography of borders, the proposed project will examine new perspectives on the crisis and transformations of politics, the emergence of subjectivities resulting from migrants’ struggles, as well as a critical reassements of political concepts such as citizenship,  sovereignty, power, and freedom.

2) From a philosophical perspective, the objective of the project is to examine different ways of mapping and delimiting the territory of thought. Taking as its departure point the opposition between to approaches to borders, limits, demarcations in philosophy: the approach of a “nomad thought” that is hostile to borders, limits frontiers, identity, interiority, denouncing borders as the site of power and focusing instead on movements, flows and the exteriority of forces an relations on the one hand and the approach that considers the gesture of tracing lines of delimitation as being constitutive of both philosophy and thought.

3) From a topological perspective, the aim of the proposed project is to deploy and explore various models of topologies involved in the subversion of the inside/outside divide in order to circumscribe the  points at which it appears to be impossible to draw a clear line of  distinction between interiority and exteriority. Such points of extimacy at which the outside is located in the very interiority will be explored in the context of a broader reflection of  the relation between finitude and infinitude, human and inhuman,  life and death in politics (bio-and necropolitics), in philosophy (the status of truths) and in psychoanalysis (the status of the drive as a point of overlapping between the somatic and the psychic).


The proposed project is organised and structured into three work packages (WP), each with its specific tasks. Management and Dissemination are included as WP4 and WP5, respectively.

The proposed research project will be carried out as a simultaneous, yet complemented interrelated elaboration within particular thematic work packages, specific tasks defined in WPs will be distributed among members of the research team according to their expertise and previous as well as current work. All researchers that will participate in this research project have the required competence for the work on the topic.

Work Package 1: Topographies of borders: between biopolitics and necropolitics

In the first year, we will summarise the main approaches to the notion of border from both traditional and contemporary philosophy, political science and border studies. We will focus in particular on the transformation of the border’s function: from being a line delimiting a bounded territorial jurisdiction of sovereign power to borders considered as various practices of social division. Based on this research, we will identify the “pandemic moment” in the transformation of borders both within the EU and at its margins. This approach will allow us to show how the border policing represents a privileged site for the enactment and disputation of the role of the state in handling the sanitary and refugee crises. (Šumič Riha, Nedoh, Troha, Klepec)

 In the second year, we will situate the migration and sanitary crises within a global frame. Taking the current pandemic conjuncture as a point of departure, we will examine the impact of the “return of the state” in this conjuncture on the world wide regulation of human mobility. Drawing on Foucault (biopolitics), Agamben (the state of exception) and Esposito (immunopolitics), Mmembe (necropolitics), we will examine the mutation of borderspaces into zones of necropolitics. (Gržinić, Šumič Riha, Nedoh, Troha)

In the third year we will confront the two dominant approaches to the border issue: Foucauldian and Deleuzian, in order to identify main deficiencies of both approaches. At the same time, we will open new perspectives on the issue of borders by introducing two radically different spatial concepts: Foucualt’s heterotopia and Rancière's partition of the sensible. Based on the analysis of these two notions will enable us to show how, by bringing together incompatible spaces, an alternative to the current neoliberal conjuncture can be imagined and practiced. (Šumič Riha, Benčin, Nedoh, Riha, Klepec)

Work Package 2: Remapping the space of thought: reconfiguring the function of borders and limits in philosophy

In the first year, we will analyse two radically different perspectives on the issue of borders, limits, boundaries in philosophy. For a Deleuzian “nomad thought”, borders represent the site and the tool of power and have to be as such dismantled. For the opposite approach that can be detected in modern (Descartes, Kant, Hegel) philosophy as well as in contemporary philosophy (Badiou), the gestures of limitations and demarcations are constitutive of philosophy. From the analysis of these contrasting approaches, we will outline two different figures of philosophy. (Riha, Bunta, Vesel, Klepec, Zupančič)

In the second year and drawing on the examination of these two mutually exclusive conceptions of borders, limits, frontiers and boundaries in philosophy, we will explore some pivotal moments in philosophy, the acts of breaking, cutting, that allow philosophy to separate itself from its “before” (not-yet-philosophy) as well as delimit itself from its constitutive outside (science, aesthetic, ontology, politics etc.) on which it nevertheless depends. We will examine similar gestures of delimitations in science (Copernican Revolution) and in psychoanalysis (separation of psychoanalysis from hypnosis). This confrontation of different modalities of the break with the “before”, will allow us to better grasp the specificity of the gestures of delimitation in philosophy. (Šumič Riha, Benčin, Zupančič, Riha, Vesel)

In the third year, we will broach the vast problem of a delimitation between philosophy and antiphilosophy. Four crucial antiphilosophical figures will be examined: Marx, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and Lacan in order to show their always specific objection addressed to philosophy as well as a solution proposed to fill in the supposed lack of philosophy (the world transformative practice – Marx, a theory of the act – Nietzsche; the opposition of saying and showing in order to overcome the impasse of the unsayable – Wittgenstein; and a construction of a new “transcendental aesthetics” in order to think the decentering of thinking – Lacan). Based on this analysis, the proposed research will outline the possible lessons that philosophy could draw from its encounters with antiphilosophy. A particular focus will be on the oscillattion between the abolition of philosophy or the possibility of philosophy’s reinvention. In the final year of the proposed project we will also deal with the articulation between the finite and the infinite. An in-depth comparative analysis of the conceptualisation of the finite and infinite in philosophy, psychoanalysis and science will allow us to identify the points of convergence and divergence between scientific, psychoanalytical and philosophical understanding of infinity. (Šumič Riha, Zupančič, Riha, Bunta, Benčin)

Work Package 3: Topology of limits: subverting the inside/outside divide

Based on our research in WP 1 that focuses on the body in the mutation of politics in the era of globalisation, we will examine in the first year the psychoanalytic conception of the body characterised by a series of divisions (organism/body; biological/libidinal; unity/multiplicity) as well as the status of the body in philosophy, characterised through the human/animal divide, in order to interrogate the relationship between life and death such as can be derived from bio-necropolitics. (Šumič Riha, Zupančič, Nedoh, Klepec)

The research carried out in the second year will be devoted to an in-depth inquiry into the crucial psychoanalytic concept, the drive, conceived as an immanent border, in order to critically examine the transposition of the notions of the drive and jouissance into the domains of contemporary philosophy and politics. (Šumič Riha, Zupančič, Riha, Benčin, Klepec, Nedoh)

In the third year, we will build on the overall results of the accomplished research to examine the seemingly opposite position, one that affirms the continuation between man's biological life and animality, only to draw another distinction between the human and the inhuman, the finite and the infinite within man himself. At this point, a necessary dialogue between philosophy (Badiou's, Deleuze's, Derrida's) and psychoanalysis (Freud and Lacan) imposes itself: first of all, because psychoanalysis identifies those points at which it is impossible to draw a clear line of demarcation between the inside and the outside. Such points of “extimacy” (Lacan) at which the outside is located in the very interiority, will be examined in the context of a broader reflection on the relation between finitude and infinitude, humanity and inhumanity, life and death. (Šumič Riha, Zupančič, Riha, Klepec, Nedoh, Benčin)

Once the research in all three WPs is complete, all team members will work together to elaborate the project conclusions. The third year will also give the members of the research group the necessary time to write and submit publications resulting from the project.

Work Package 4: Management

Project management (months: 1-36) includes coordination of the research work as well as regular exchange of findings among the members of research team. All members of the research team participate in the activities of this WP. Regular meetings are to be held at which team members will discuss the progress and findings of each task. These meetings will also facilitate the project management and allow the members of the research team to discuss publishing and other possibilities for dissemination.

Work Package 5: Output and Dissemination

Dissemination of the project results will continue throughout the duration of the project. This will increase the impact of the research results. The recognisability of the team members in the public sphere in Slovenia and abroad will allow for the broader dissemination of the results in the media, leading to notable societal impacts.

In terms of academic publications, the research team plans to produce: scientific articles that will be published in highly-renown domestic and international journals: Filozofski vestnik and Problemi, nationally, and Angelaki, Continantal Philosophy Review, Continental thought & theory, Analysis, Parallax, S: Journal of the circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique, Crisis and Critique, Journal for Cultural Research, internationally. In addition to the scientific article, a scientific monograph will be submitted to a thematically relevant series by an international publishing house (e.g. Edinburgh University Press, Rowman & Littlefield International, Routledge, Bloomsbury, Diaphanes, Suhrkamp, Turia+Kant, Harmattan, Kimé). A special issue of an internationally acclaimed peer-reviewed journal, or at least one edited volume with a publishing house in English is planned, including contributions by research team members and invited external scholars. Each senior team member is expected to author (or co-author) two articles related to the project topics in the course of the project or shortly after.

In terms of international academic events to be organised within the framework of the project: in addition to the scientific publications, the research team plans to organize yearly workshops and an international conference at the end of the project to present the project’s results. The research team will invite internationally acclaimed scholars working on related research projects in order to discuss both the ongoing research as well as the final results.

The findings will be disseminated in third-party conferences around the world. They will also be used in team members teaching activities at the Postgraduate School ZRC SAZU, The European Graduate School (Zupančič), the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (Gržinić) and invited lectures and conferences at other universities. The research team will present the research results continuously in lectures and seminars at the Postgraduate School ZRC SAZU, which will also be a way of engaging in the ongoing research highly motivated students interested in the topics related to the project’s main topics.

A website will be created for the project, on which project-related news will be published and its events and publications advertised. The project can also rely on ZRC SAZU’s science communication officer, the institution’s social media accounts and its science news web-magazine ZRCalnik to help with disseminating project’s activities, events and findings.

teoretical psichoanalisys

Research areas
Sistematična filozofija, etika, estetika, metafizika, epistemologija, ideologija H120