Border disputes are a common source of political unrest and armed conflict throughout the globe, both in the present day and throughout history. Summa’s book Everyday Boundaries, Borders and Post-Conflict Societies is a product that adopts a wide definition of post-conflict boundaries, which focuses on how borders and boundaries are created, replicated, challenged, and diverted in post-conflict societies by taking the everyday as a serious field of analysis. Summa’s underlying objective here is to explain that the production of boundaries does not happen in the ways we usually think it does, nor where we usually expect it to happen. She conceptualizes a distinct type of analysis, which define boundaries not (only) by looking at the map or by taking into account how they were created and institutionalized (primarily) by the ‘international community’ and ‘local’ leaders seated at the peace table (p. 46).
The first chapter presents how boundaries are enacted and re-employed, altered, and displaced in the everyday of post-conflict societies looking with greater attention to the cases of Sarajevo and Mostar (p. 6). Here Summa argues that boundaries are related to the practices of demarcation and will not be restricted to solely geographical aspects or spatial features. They have been reorganized by peace agreements, which have restructured the society in ways that have assured the boundaries a more significant role in post-conflict socio-political lives (pp. 7-9).
Chapter 2 entitled ‘Enacting Boundaries,’ begins an effort to conceptualize the word boundaries, separating it from the concept of borders rather than using the terms interchangeably, and its usages in international relations. In this chapter, the author discusses that boundaries are considered here as practices of spatiotemporal demarcation and differentiation that may or may not involve geographical delimitations, may or may not be backed up by administrative or legal regulations, and may or may not be expressed materially (p. 32). She explained that boundaries are always in movement, take on new meanings and are enacted in a variety of ways over space and time. In fact, they can be understood as a much more fluid and dynamic category, which allows us to move away from the metaphor of the line. They should not be viewed as pre-given contours that restrict political life (pp. 38-40).
Chapter 3, ‘The Place(s) of Everyday and Everyday Places,’ carefully interrogates how the everyday relates to the international in particular, and in post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina more specifically. She argues that the everyday cannot be understood in terms of high and low dichotomies and hierarchies, nor can it be understood using the conventional level-of-analysis approach (typically depicted as a pyramid with the individual, the state, and the system of states at the bottom and the local and the global at the top) (p. 75). After a broad examination of literature Summa offers a working concept of the everyday and highlights the different methods such as estrangement, displacement and curiosity as strategies to denaturalize and problematize the everyday.
The next chapter ‘Politics of (Im)mobility (or everyday practices around a coach station),’ provides an incursion into a Sarajevo suburb that has been administratively divided into Sarajevo and Istočno Sarajevo by the Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL) (Eastern Sarajevo). By paying attention to everyday practices and everyday places such as a coach station, a beauty salon, an informal market area, and schools. Furthermore, Summa argues how boundaries have been changing through time and the many meanings that it has acquired in the everyday life of dwellers from this area (pp. 125-141).
Chapter 5, ‘Boundary displacement and displacement as boundary (or Saturday afternoon in a kafana)’, describes how the narrative of the ‘divided city’, frequently attributed to post-Dayton Mostar, changes when we take a closer look at places where those boundaries are being enacted. In this chapter, Summa forcefully argues that displacement and placement are not only reflated spatially, they are rather spatiotemporal ascriptions around which those negotiations turn (p. 184).
Chapter 6 examines how distinctions between the “local” and the “international” are put into practice, enacted, or blurred in the urban everyday by focusing on Sarajevo and, more specifically, the retail BBI Centre and its square (p. 188).
In conclusion, Summa highlights that there is a need to make a point about the linguistic issues of practices of making and unmaking boundaries. She argues that boundaries produce everyday places and their surroundings, which are permeated with practices to enforce them, counter them, or contour them. A boundary could be ‘invisible,’ working as a widespread myth –and, therefore, it exists (pp. 219-223).
Throughout the book, Summa demonstrates a healthy contrarian streak. She tries to make a less ‘statist’ and territorialized analysis. Comprehensively, the strength of the book is the depth of its historical excavation and the synchronization of relevant literature on everyday boundaries, which are usually ignored or under-theorized by the literature. It is an interesting scholarly piece that attempts to explore new approaches and offers a clarifying lens for understanding this critical and multifaceted concept. Therefore, the book is an important contribution to the study of ongoing debates on everyday borders and boundaries in post-conflict societies and is of interest to academic scholars and policymakers alike.