Freedom of the Border
Freedom of the Border
Translated by Liz Waters

There are few issues more contentious today than the nature and purpose of borders. Migration flows and the refugee crisis have propelled the issue of borders into the centre of political debate and revealed our moral unease more clearly than ever. Who are we to deny others access to our territory? Is not freedom of movement a basic human right, one that should be defended above all others?

In this book Paul Scheffer takes a different view. Rather than thinking of borders as obstacles to freedom, he argues that borders make freedom possible. Democracy and redistributive justice are only possible with the regulation of access to territories and rights. When liberals ignore an open society’s need for borders, people with authoritarian inclinations will begin to erect them. In the context of Europe, the project of removing internal borders can therefore only be successful if Europe accepts responsibility for its external border.

This timely and important book challenges conventional ways of thinking and will be of interest to everyone concerned with the great social and political issues of our time.

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  • March 2021
  • 256 pages
  • 145 x 219 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9781509540907
  • Paperback $22.95
  • 9781509540914
  • Open eBook $52.00
  • 9781509540921
Table of Contents
Table of contents:


Introduction: Exploring boundaries

I. The value of proximity

Discovery of the world citizen

Tartars in the suburbs

The revenge of geography

The digital shadow

II. An age of migration

The citizenship bonus

The exodus and our conscience

The critical limits reconsidered

The return of the caliphate

III. The state of Europe

After the Pax Americana

A hidden vitality

Scenarios for the Union

A compulsion to grand politics



About the Author
Paul Scheffer was formerly Professor of European Studies at the University of Tilburg.
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“Paul Scheffer is one of Europe’s most important thinkers and after Immigrant Nations it is a blessing to have another of his books in English translation. He excavates the tension between openness and identity with subtly and humanity. He explores, like few others, the light and shade of our more fragmented and diverse societies: the mingling and enrichment alongside the alienation and inequality. Above all, he recognises that embracing the benign necessity of borders is the best way of preventing them becoming walls and thus preserving our open societies.”
David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere: The New Tribes Shaping British Politics

“You don’t have to agree with everything Paul Scheffer says to admire the way he says it. His book is fair-minded, probing, important, enlightening, and stylish. His arguments should be taken seriously by anyone interested in the problems of today’s troubled world.”
Ian Buruma, writer and professor at Bard College

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