Martin Bureau. Borders and Walls — Sophie Bertrand

[Fall 2019]

Par Sophie Bertrand

“The number of walls has tripled since the Cold War, and it has kept growing since 2001; it now consists of almost 30,000 km of armed borders.”1 This observation, made in 2013 by the researchers of the Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques et diplomatiques at the Université du Québec à Montréal, during a conference on issues around walled borders, conveys much more than a malaise inherited from history. Although the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 gave hope that barriers would crumble, today more than seventy walls separate territories. Shows of power between countries and territories are still forming the genesis of these ambitious projects. The wire-mesh or concrete ramparts have become the visible objects of political tactics aimed at installing a sense of insecurity and evoking a hypothetical neighbouring threat. If the dramatic events of 11 September 2001 in New York encouraged the establishment of this climate of general mistrust, it remains that the construction of such structures does not seem to be resolving the conflicts over which they were erected. On the other hand, there is no doubt that they maintain an ideology of fear of an “enemy” that threatens social equilibrium, a culture, or an economy.

It is in these conferences on border walls that Martin Bureau found the material for his web documentary Les Murs du désordre.2 For this multidisciplinary project begun in 2013, Bureau partnered with the researchers of the Chaire Raoul-Dandurand. To make the project’s six videos, he took his camera to shoot along three walls: Peacelines in Belfast, separating Catholic separatists from Protestants faithful to the British crown; the security wall between Israel and Occupied Palestine; and the wall on the border between the United States and Mexico…
Translated by Käthe Roth

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1 Élisabeth Vallet, Frontières, murs et sécurité, report on conference of 17–18 October
2013, Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques et diplomatiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, 25, (our translation).