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Keywords:

  • Borders;
  • folds;
  • flows;
  • shopping;
  • city centres

ABSTRACT

The aim of recent redevelopment plans and projects for European city centres is to remove intra-urban ‘borders’ and thereby to promote the profitability of cities. Consumer mobility within city centres is encouraged to facilitate flows of consumption capital and generate consumer spending. Contextualised by international border studies and related EU integration policies, the Van Heekplein redevelopment project in Enschede, the Netherlands, is discussed here to scrutinise the redevelopment focus on economic ‘flows’ in city centres. The paper brings to the fore how European border studies speak to city centre plans and their redevelopment focus – resulting in a critique for ignoring the social production of borders. To achieve a more comprehensive understanding of consumer (im)mobility in city centres and processes of bordering, the paper proposes a perspective on borders as spatial ‘folds’. Analysing four types of folding – the folding of ‘bodies’, ‘forces’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘the outside’– provides both a much more dynamic and kaleidoscopic picture of city centres and their users and a more comprehensive understanding of border perceptions and experiences and related practices of shoppers. Such an analytical perspective and approach not only seems of interest for border-related studies and policies at the urban level but also at the European level.