Lies, damned lies and maps: EU’s cartopolitical invention of Europe
until further notice
SourceJournal of Contemporary European Studies, 23, 4, (2015), pp. 477-499
24 augustus 2015
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of Contemporary European Studies
SubjectGlobal-Local Divides and Connections (GLOCAL)
Ever since the 15th century, empires have invented Europe as a meaningful political space to legitimize territorial ambitions and establish hierarchies between Europeans and professedly lesser geocultural entities. Maps have played a crucial role in naturalizing the geopolitical arbitrariness—what we term cartopolitics—that has underlain such Europeanization. In this article, we draw on historical maps to expose the cartopolitical cleansing done by the EU—today's grand Europeanizing power—and free Europe from its hegemonic cartopolitical inscription. Heavy on symbolism yet light on mathematical accuracy, old maps of Europe readily earn our mistrust. Meanwhile, EU cartography, foreseeing that strident symbolism could antagonize its members' national iconography and hamper enlargement, offers a plain technicality divested of political allegory that demands indifference. However, the seemingly unobjectionable Europe portrayed by EU maps relies on decorative strategies analogous to those of ancient maps and should arouse similar suspicion. Ironically, for all their subtlety to cultivate an affiliation with Brussels, EU maps inadvertently prop up Eurosceptical discourses chewing at the EU's external appeal and internal cohesion. Our conviction is that dislocating Europe's borders to show Europes that were and could be may inspire refreshing imaginations about the meaning and boundaries of Europe and the EU.
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