Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1996

Abstract

The claim is often made that boundaries obviate disputes if they are clear. But boundaries are inseparable from disputes; they seem to invite them as much as obviate them. Note how natural the collocations "disputed boundary" and "boundary dispute" are. The conventional view that one hears a lot in law schools is that once a bright line is drawn then a boundary is "settled." But that supposes that a clear boundary need not be defended or continually justified or that internal changes in the entity it circumscribes and in some ways defines do not affect the integrity of the boundary. Boundaries are also dares, lines drawn in the sand; they are almost invitations for violation. Demarcations yes, claims to prohibit and to exclude, warnings, wardings off, but also affronts. This is mine and me and thou shalt not (tres)pass, or thou shalt not pass unless permitted by the entity claiming the boundary as its skin so to speak. It is the boundary that gives conceptual sense to entry and admittance, assault, affront, and invasion. It is the location at which the notions of offense and defense come to take on their core meanings.


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