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A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change

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Italy’s land border follows the watershed that separates the drainage basins of Northern and Southern Europe. Running mostly at high altitudes, it crosses snowfields and perennial glaciers—all of which are now melting as a result of anthropogenic climate change. As the watershed shifts so does the border, diverging from its representation on official maps. Italy, Austria, and Switzerland have consequently introduced the novel legal concept of a “moving border,” which acknowledges the volatility of geographical features once thought to be stable.

A Moving Border: Alpine Cartographies of Climate Change builds upon Italian Limes, a four-year project by Studio Folder to survey in real time the variations of the boundary line. By examining the nexus of nation-building and cartography, the book shows how natural borders are in fact produced through spatial and historical narratives—and hints at the challenge that global warming poses to Western conceptions of territory. Even more, it provides a blueprint for intervention in a world where ecological processes are bound to dominate geopolitical affairs.

A Moving Border features a foreword by Bruno Latour, maps and unpublished documents from state archives, and contributions by Stuart Elden, Mia Fuller, Francesca Hughes, and Wu Ming 1. It is co-published with ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.