An interesting piece on maps, territory and China-German relations by my Warwick colleague Marijn Nieuwenhuis.
by Marijn Nieuwenhuis, University of Warwick
Maps are vital for the geographic imaginary of the state. They are, as David Harvey (2001) and others (see, for example, Crampton and Elden 2007; Elden 2013) remind us, instruments of a Foucauldian power/knowledge nexus that interlock in a particular mode of governmentality. Their authoritarian and authoritative representation of reality legitimises and makes possible state governance and the exercise of violence over territory. There exists, however, a mismatch between the cartographic need to map territory and the historically dynamic nature of territory itself. Territory is neither a static container nor a dehistoricised social relation. It is instead a formative force and a historically contingent category. Maps need therefore to be constantly adjusted to reflect changing political realities. The consequence is a weakening of their authoritative nature which, in turn, can potentially damage the geographic imaginary of the state. In other words, territory is…
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