Fence Walls: From the Iron Curtain to the US and Hungarian Border Barriers and the Emergence of Global Walls


Éva Eszter Szabó
School of English and American Studies
Department of American Studies
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Fence Walls: From the Iron Curtain
to the US and Hungarian Border Barriers
and the Emergence of Global Walls

Abstract: This paper considers the resurgence of the Iron Curtain metaphor and its appropriateness in relation to the current border barriers in the US and the EU. It addresses the impact of the Iron Curtain both on Eastern Europe and on Western Europe, and it explores the legacy of this nearly hermetically sealed off borderland in the different border security and migration control approaches within the EU in the current era of emerging global walls. In my view, while the Iron Curtain metaphor is mistakenly applied to the current border barriers in the US and the EU alike, its legacy does contribute to the marked difference between Eastern and Western European attitudes and policies to the massive influx of migrants. From the Iron Curtain to the Hungarian border fence, the fence walls of the spatially identical border sections reflect not only the changing concepts of walls, but also the distinct historical experiences with migration. The current border barriers in Hungary and the EU, however, draw on the US–Mexican border barrier that aims to stop unauthorized entry while keeping the gates open in both directions for legal cross-border movement in contrast with the prison walls of the Iron Curtain. 

Keywords: US-Mexican border barrier, Hungarian border fence, unauthorized migration, Eastern Europe, Cold War, Iron Curtain, border walls


US–Mexican border barrier; Hungarian border fence; unauthorized migration; Eastern Europe; Cold War; Iron Curtain; border walls

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Published : 2018-06-30

Szabó Éva. (2018). Fence Walls: From the Iron Curtain to the US and Hungarian Border Barriers and the Emergence of Global Walls. Review of International American Studies, 11(1). Retrieved from https://journals.us.edu.pl/index.php/RIAS/article/view/6385

Éva Eszter Szabó  evaeszter@t-email.hu
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest School of English and American Studies Department of American Studies  Hungary

Éva Eszter Szabó, historian, Americanist and Latin Americanist, is Assistant Professor at the Department of American Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, and editor of Hungarian Review – A Bimonthly Journal from Central Europe. She is a member of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), the International American Studies Association (IASA), the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), and the Hungarian Association of American Studies (HAAS). She is an International Forum for US Studies Residential Research Fellow (2018). Her courses and research have focused on inter-American relations, U.S. immigration history and policies, and global migration issues. Her book, U.S. Foreign and Immigration Policies in the Caribbean Basin, was published by Savaria University Press in 2007.

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