Project Details


REEL BORDERS aims to bring fiction film to the centre of discussions about borders and belonging. As different institutions and actors increasingly turn to fiction film to circulate messages about borders, the study looks at how borders and fiction film have been related since the early 20th century. Border regimes are intimately intertwined with cultural imaginations and representations of borders and their insiders and outsiders.
This project is the first to comprehensively investigate this relation across different borderlands and for the various actors involved. While grounded in the cultural studies tradition, it originally combines insights from representations research, film theory, popular geopolitics, border studies and migration studies. The main questions to be addressed are: What are the cultural imaginations of borders and its insiders and outsiders found in fiction film? How do different societal actors use fiction film to construct, contest, or experience territorial borders? These questions will be answered by looking at 3 groups of actors (institutions, creatives, and borderlanders) at 3 borderland cases: Ireland-UK, Turkey-Syria, and the Ceuta and Melilla exclaves.
The study will combine archival work with media studies methods (production, content and reception analysis) and participatory filmmaking where borderlanders will make their own short films. REEL BORDERS will have a threefold impact. Empirically, it puts film firmly on the map of research on borders, conflict and migration, while expanding the horizon both in terms of historical depth and geographical width. Methodologically, it will include the most ambitious participatory film study to date.
Theoretically, the study will establish new conceptual understandings of borders and belonging in cultural studies and beyond.

Funding Acknowledgement(s)

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 948278)
Short title or EU acronymREEL BORDERS
Effective start/end date1/02/2131/01/26


  • European Research Council


  • visual and performing arts
  • film
  • design
  • cultural studies
  • cultural indentities

Flemish discipline codes

  • Other arts not elsewhere classified