Borders … They’re an inevitable part of the global landscape, some neutral, others divisive. Amid today’s growing fear of ‘the other’, Northern Ireland-born Leon McCarron explores the effects of borders on the people that live around them.

Where I grew up, I only knew of one border, but it was a very real one.

On one side were people who talked like me, and the road signs showed distances in miles. On the other, separated by a physical boundary of soldiers, bollards and razor wire fence, were people who traveled by kilometers instead and had ‘strange’ accents.

We had smoother roads, my mother said, but they had cheaper petrol. As a child, these separations seemed odd and unnecessary—and even at a young age, it was obvious to me that this border and the processes attached to it created an ‘us’ and ‘them’.

I’ve since noticed this otherness far beyond the shores of Northern Ireland. And wherever I’ve gone, borders have always been in the way.