Intervention – Cartographic Nationalism and Territorial Confusion in East Asia

Marijn Nieuwenhuis on East Asian territorial and cartographic disputes, at the Antipode site.

Marijn Nieuwenhuisby Marijn Nieuwenhuis, University of Warwick


The idea of nationhood rests on the claim of a specific territorial area. The cartographic demarcating of territory automatically exposes, however, the contingent nature of borders. Modern borders are the product of a world system composed of nation states which are not organic unities but socially constructed entities in need of constant affirmation. Nationalism, the modus operandi for that affirmation, often takes a cartographic form. Cartographic nationalism is of all ages but seems in East Asia to have become especially important in post-Mao China.

This short article wishes to offer some insight into the ways in which maps are increasingly being used to arouse nationalist sentiments in East Asia. I do not aspire to explain the reasons for the trend of a rise in nationalism, but instead wish to engage with the manner in which this has become apparent by looking at…

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