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Bernard Debarbieux

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Bernard Debarbieux

This book focuses on the spatial dimension of social imaginaries. The guiding hypothesis throughout is that this dimension is constitutive of modern social imaginaries. From an analytical point of view, this book’s objective is to show that a full understanding of these imaginaries requires characterizing forms of spatiality at work by differentiating their respective statuses. In order for such a proposition to be fully intelligible, there must first be a clarification of its terms and an introduction of the references it is based on.

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Bernard Debarbieux

What are the differences between a makeshift football game in a vacant lot in a Soweto township and a Champions League football match in the Vélodrome stadium in Marseilles?

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Bernard Debarbieux

In 1851, settlers chasing apparently hostile Native Americans entered a valley of the Sierra Nevada, California; they called it Yo Semite. They were overwhelmed by this yawning valley riven by glaciers, with a peaceful river at the bottom running between woods and meadows and surrounded by immense walls of granite and cascading waterfalls. They hurried to chronicle it and many newspapers across the country ran it. The site’s renown grew in several years.

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Bernard Debarbieux

The nature of the state changed with modernity. In the Middle Ages, it was conceived on a relational system of allegiances and on an order that could be called “theological–moral” (Schmitt, [1950] 2006). The state’s hold on space was subordinated to this system and this order. Between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the form of the modern state came into view unfolding its raison d’être in space itself, rooting itself progressively in the earth, attentive to carving out borders, thinking itself through the mastery of an area, resources and populations. The modern state and the state territory emerged and stabilized at the same time with both forms being dependent on each other.

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Bernard Debarbieux

Between the publication of Utopia and Leviathan, England lived through the reigns of the Tudor and then the Stuart dynasties. Historians see in the reign of the last Tudor, Elizabeth I (1558–1603) the first apogee of the English State and the emergence of an archetypal model of the modern state. This is just one way of qualifying this rise. To be precise, some other features characterize this period: the rapid growth in the British population; the first sign of the agricultural revolution and the first overseas forays; the victory against the Spanish Armada and the beginning of the British reign over the oceans, etc.

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Bernard Debarbieux

A “psychedelic nightmare” is how A. Terry Rambo (1997, p. 8), a Vietnam scholar, considers the job of the cartographer who has to represent the localization of the "hundreds of different cultural groups peppered in the landscape" of North Vietnam's heights. This cartographer chooses to represent "a multi-hued kaleidoscope of tiny dots and splotches" to account for the many entwined population. Even so, such a map only tells an imperfect story of the reality because heterogeneity prevails down to the scale of the villages' populations.

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Bernard Debarbieux

Over several centuries and with many adjustments to various contexts, the spread of the modern state model has led to a progressive creation of a territorial puzzle in Europe and then the rest of the world. Political cartography has accounted for and made possible this division into colour-coded areas and shared symbols. While these territories are all different as to their material constitution or institutional characteristics, because they can all be connected to the same type of state territoriality, they are in a way equivalent.

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Bernard Debarbieux

The works devoted to the “realms of memory” (Nora, [1984–92] 1996–98), conceived and written by a team coordinated by Pierre Nora, address all sorts of things, and in particular books, events and sites, through which a certain idea of France, the French Republic and nation, has been constructed.

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Bernard Debarbieux

If, as the two previous conceptual chapters (Chapters 4 and 7) suggest, modern imaginaries of space were mainly aligned on a state mode, on one hand, and a national one, on the other, both with the aid of a partitive conception of the world, what is the situation today when these alignments have lost part of their substance?