Editorial decisions are subject to their own laws. When we decided on “borders” as the focus of the dossier for the Junge Akademie Magazin, we had no way of knowing what a hot topic it would become by the time we went to press. And so, in light of border fences, border controls and maximum limits, our magazine is practically as current as a daily publication.
Borders have always determined our lives. We encounter them in many different ways. On my daily commute to the laboratory in Marburg, I pass the former castle of the local ruler. This border castle marked the boundary between the lands of the ruler of Thuringia and the archdiocese of Mainz, a boundary of long-lost significance in these times of free movement within the Schengen Zone. In this issue, ethnologist Silja Klepp discusses how this new intra-European borderlessness ultimately led to Europe sealing itself off and exacerbating the current refugee crisis. In this context, Klepp is organising a conference on ‘Refugees at German Universities’ to be held in Berlin in mid-May.
Borders are important. When I cycle to work, I often encounter red traffic lights that limit my movement during the journey, but they also show me how useful boundaries are for regulating the way we live together. The media culture scholar Evelyn Runge writes about the positive aspects of borders: when it comes to photo journalism, where does morality begin and end? Meanwhile, the literary scholar Caspar Battegay participates in an experimental dialogue with the universally feared deadline, without which this issue would probably not exist.
Borders challenge us. Once I have arrived at my laboratory, I am still engaged in crossing boundaries. As a synthetic biologist, I study the border between organic and anorganic material. The chemist Hans Jakob Wörner, who conducts research on atomic dissolution, reports on academic ‘boundary experiences’ in his work. The psychologist Philipp Kanske, the linguist Christian Stein and the historians of science Fabian Krämer and Veronika Lipphardt round out the dossier with contributions on interpersonal and interdisciplinary borders. As members of the Junge Akademie, we are continually confronted with the latter and must keep finding new ways of overcoming them. All barriers exist only to be overcome, wrote Novalis.
On that note, the editorial team and I wish you boundless enjoyment while reading this issue. Tobi J. Erb