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Convivencia in a Borderland:The Danish-Slavic Border in the Middle Ages

By Magdalena Naum


This article explores the notion of borderlands as ambivalent and contested landscapes, as literal and figurative in-between spaces—realms of negotiation, translation and remaking. It is argued that, due to the social and cultural processes taking place in borderlands, they can be usefully scrutinized using concepts developed in postcolonial scholarship. In particular, Homi Bhabha’s concept of the ‘Third Space’ and ‘hybridity’ and the writings of Gloria Anzaldua on ‘mestizaje’ conditions of borderlands are explored and argued to be useful in addressing the complexity of border zones. The argument is then taken further by proposing that postcolonial concepts can be fruitfully applied to describe relationships in tense and ideologically charged landscapes that lack colonial stigma. To illustrate this point, the relationships, mentalities and material conditions of the medieval (1000–1200 AD) border between Denmark and the Slavic Obodriti are examined. By analysing both archaeological and historical sources, this case study describes the complexity of the interactions in this region, highlights their effects on material culture and underlines the complex and multi-positional identities of the area’s inhabitants

Topics: Archaeology, borderland, Denmark, Obodriti, identity, postcolonial theories
Publisher: 'Cambridge Medicine Journal'
Year: 2013
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