Recent policy developments in the western Mediterranean, especially in North Africa, pose an important puzzle for our understanding of borders and frontiers and the ways in which they are politically addressed. This article sets out to analyse their various implications for patterns of interdependence among states, territoriality, sovereignty, mobility, and last but not least, for domestic politics. By drawing on a vast corpus, the study provides a broader interpretation of such implications which, as argued, cannot be captured with exclusive reference to securitization and processes of demarcation. This endeavour is important to explore how the power dimension in the borderland may interact with other dimensions of the border. Each disciplinary approach discussed in this study, including its heuristic devices, provides a valid explanation of the oft-cited disconnect that scholars have observed in North Africa between the territorially bounded ideal-type of the nation-state and the ways in which it is concretely translated, if not reinterpreted, by borderlanders. An important insight is to venture far beyond disciplinary dogmatism with a view to addressing an array of drivers (be they political, historical, social, economic and geostrategic) that propels bordering practices in North Africa and determines, by the same token, their effects on the ground.