Holding the Line: Borders in a Global World


440 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-0931-0
DDC 320.1'2





Edited by Heather N. Nicol and Ian Townsend-Gault
Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom, Chile and the Nazis, and The Diplomacy of War: The Case of


This fascinating book provides insights into boundaries and their
permeability around the world. Different authors are responsible for
each chapter, and space permits mention of only a few here. Yet while
publication by a university press usually guarantees a book of high
quality, the publication process (approval by innumerable referees, some
less efficient than others) may render some of the information obsolete
before the book becomes available.

This appears to be the case here. Chapter 1, by Gerald Blake, correctly
identifies Europe as having the largest number of the world’s most
open borders, but it cites the following as being effectively closed:
Turkey–Syria, North Korea–South Korea, Iraq–Kuwait,
India–Pakistan. Yet news reports indicate that the last two are more
open now than they were a few years ago. Would Israel–Syria not be a
better example? Similarly, in Chapter 8 on the Caribbean, author Heather
Nicol fails to mention the heated maritime boundary dispute of 2004
between Barbados on the one hand and Trinidad and Tobago on the other.

Eberhart Bort (Chapter 4) notes that the Schengen Agreements of 1985
and 1990 have permitted openness in Europe, where signatory governments
agreed to certain standards. It also helps that since the Helsinki
Accord of 1975, there have been no boundary disputes. (There are
disagreements regarding whether British or Irish authorities should
control Northern Ireland, but there is no argument over the location of
the inter-Irish border.) Police co-operate in enforcement of the rules.
However, Spain uses the absence of a British signature at Schengen to
emphasize its displeasure over ongoing British control of Gibraltar and
creates delays at the Gibraltar–Spanish border.

Elsewhere, Clive Schofield (Chapter 7) provides an excellent section on
maritime boundaries in Southeast Asia. Ray Bradshaw’s Chapter 9 should
have mentioned the perennial territorial dispute between landlocked
Bolivia and Chile, which deprived it of its seacoast. Alan Artibise
(Chapter 12) suggests that the ties linking British Columbia, Washington
State, and Oregon to each other are in many ways stronger than those
linking them to the rest of their countries.


“Holding the Line: Borders in a Global World,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 10, 2023, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16537.