Seeing this video of the complex relationship between the city of London and London made me realise that Belgium isn’t such a darned complicated country after all.

Although the governmental structure can be somewhat overwrought, even when it is being oversimplified as in the video below.

And then I remembered, … [insert dramatic drumroll:]

The lovely quaint messiness of the city of Baarle:

All this led me back to the wonderful weird world of enclaves and counter-enclaves, exclaves and pene-enclaves, and the delightful people who spend their free time studying and arguing about relative merit and correct nomenclature. It’s bickering fools like these who made the world what it is today, a place full of eccentricity and limitless entertainment, and I love them for it.

An apology of enclaves @ the New York Times:

 “In keeping with the original meaning of the word, this apology is a defense of enclaves, a fascinating but endangered border phenomenon. Yet at the same time, this piece is also an apology of sorts for enclaves [1], for two examples in particular: Baarle, Belgium, and Cooch Behar, India/Bangladesh, both of which involve not one or two but dozens of atomized enclaves spread throughout, respectively, Dutch and Bangladeshi/Indian territory. It’s fair to ask why these lands, which by all accounts feed daily bureaucratic nightmares, have been allowed to survive.

This article must also contain an apology as well — in particular to Simon, from Singapore. In a comment on the previous post in this series, Simon, a self-declared border/no-man’s land/enclave buff, warned me against visiting the subjects of Baarle and Cooch Behar. “Am a bit fed up reading about the town in Belgium and the mess in Bangladesh/India,” he wrote. “We need new ones!”

Understood, and agreed. Border studies, and enclave-spotting in particular, are disciplines that should not be reduced to their star subjects. Obscure examples, and the concomitant thrill of discovery, are part of the attraction of scouting for border anomalies, a few of which Simon suggested: “Haven’t seen much in the literary record on the Malaysian railway in Singapore … used to be Malaysian territory once you got on the train.” He likewise suggested “the little back door leading into Guantánamo Bay solely for the Cuban pensions officer.”

My own favorite obscure border anomalies include the Drummully Polyp, a pene-enclave [2] on the intra-Irish border, and the omelet-shaped enclave complex of Madha and Nahwa — Madha being a small Omani enclave inside the United Arab Emirates, and Nahwa in turn a tiny emirates enclave inside Madha [3]. And there are plenty of river/border asynchronicities [4] around the world to get excited about.”

I’m sure that we’ll eventually get to these, or other equally obscure examples of anomalous borders. But when it comes to enclaves, Baarle and Cooch Behar are, for lack of a better word, uncircumventable. How better to explain to an entry-level enthusiast the ins and outs of this particular border phenomenon than via the world’s two most spectacular examples?[… read the full article over at the NYT]”