Exchange and twinning in an age of borders: (inter)nationalism, mobility, encounter, and participation

Sinead O'Connor, Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins, Rhys Dafydd Jones

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


The decades following the second world war saw an increase in twinning and exchanges in western Europe. Such initiatives were considered important for creating understanding and conviviality among national neighbours whose recent histories were characterised by conflict and antagonism. Similarly, in some national contexts – particularly post-reunification Germany – exchange and twinning has been part of a broader nation-building project. For the second half of the twentieth century, exchanges and twinning were considered advantageous for fostering international friendship, language-learning, civic participation, and opportunities for cheaper travel. Studies also suggest that migration to a particular destination can be influenced by an earlier exchange and twinning. However, a number of challenges face exchange and twinning. Austerity, declining uptake of language learning, safeguarding concerns, the emergence of budget holidays, the allure of travelling to new destinations rather than returning continuously to the same destination, and fewer new members in twinning associations provide structural challenges to exchanges and twinning. Furthermore, the rise of populist, isolationist nationalism emphasising borders in a number of countries across the world may means less official support for such ventures (with the noted example of one town in southern Wales un-twinning following the Brexit referendum result). Similarly, hostile environments where xenophobia is encouraged or tolerated, may mean exchanges are less appealing. However, there is scope also for these exchange and twinning ventures to be rallying points for those opposed to such discourses. Against this backdrop, we invite papers which address themes including, but not limited to:

Exchange and twinning in austerity
Geopolitics of exchange and twinning
Internationalism, solidarity, and exchange and twinning
Countertopographies of exchange and twinning
Exchange, twinning, and the lifecourse
Migration, exchange and twinning
Encounters, twinning and exchange
Dark exchanges and troubled twinning
Conflict, peace, and reconciliation in exchange and twinning
Participation, civil society, and exchange and twinning
Methodological approaches to studying exchanges and twinning
Education, exchange and twinning
Un-twinning and exchange-ending
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Jan 2020
EventRGS-IBG Annual Conference 2020 - London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Duration: 01 Sept 202004 Sept 2020


ConferenceRGS-IBG Annual Conference 2020
Abbreviated titleRGS-IBG 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Period01 Sept 202004 Sept 2020


  • Twinning
  • Exchange
  • Mobility
  • Borders


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