On crossing borders in South America
Despite the importance of borders in geopolitical thought, Ross already begins questioning their functionality on the basis of his experiences in South America.
In the context of the radical reshaping of the European political map after World War I, questions of the relationship between a state and its borders featured prominently in political and intellectual discussion, particularly in Germany, which had seen its borders in both the east and west reduced—the country lost 13% of its prewar continental expanse. If, according to the imperial geopolitician Friedrich Ratzel, a healthy country is one whose borders are expanding like the external membrane of a growing organic being; and if, as postwar geopoliticians argued, the question of political sovereignty could be reduced to that of a people’s control over its borders, one would expect Ross to reflect this overarching reverence with respect to the rituals and protocols of border crossings. It is therefore surprising that Ross argues here against these practices.
“Having crossed dozens of borders, I have now become skeptical about the usefulness of passport controls. I don’t think that they are effective in keeping out unwanted elements, they just serve to harass the harmless. But the state probably earns a lot of money off them, and so, for the time being, passports will remain necessary”.
Colin Ross. Abend in Santa Anna. In: Südamerika, die aufsteigende Welt. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1922; 253-258.