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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?

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Bernard Debarbieux

The Marco Polo Festival second edition took place on 12 October 2010 in Chinatown and Little Italy in downtown Manhattan, New York. A stage had been set up at the crossroads of Mott and Grand Streets, so I was able to observe Chinese opera singers, a band playing Italian songs, local clubs representatives, a rather dramatic interpretation of the United States national anthem by an Australian singer, a dance of the dragon and many other things too. The event was a concentrate of more or less stereotypical emblems and symbols, referring to China and to Italy first, but also to the United States, to Italian-Americans and Chinese-Americans, all enveloped in this friendly atmosphere that typifies the many ongoing city street manifestations.

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Bernard Debarbieux

Nature, especially from one case study to another, is one of the common threads of this book. In truth, it is not nature as such, not even nature as a general category of knowledge that interests us here, but nature as a category of practice and action. In this sense, it is the forms of spatiality by which it is thought and acted upon that interest us and their status within various social imaginaries to which this category contributes. At this point, the question is now: what are the social collectives that emerge at the time of a globalized and post-national world and that become institutionalized by a reference to nature in one or another of the configurations under which we can grasp it?

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Bernard Debarbieux

I have pursued one main objective throughout this book: to take the measure of the spatial dimension constitutive of social imaginaries in a long-term perspec¬tive. As the goal was enormous, I focused on several authors (More, Hobbes, Taylor, Searle, Warner, Arendt, Schmitt, etc.), certain social institutions (currency, private property, etc.), a set of preferential spatial objects (territory, border, plot, natural park, etc.), and just some of the innumerable collectives with which the question could be illustrated.

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Social Imaginaries of Space

Concepts and Cases

Bernard Debarbieux

Travelling through various historical and geographical contexts, Social Imaginaries of Space explores diverse forms of spatiality, examining the interconnections which shape different social collectives. Proposing a theory on how space is intrinsically linked to the making of societies, this book examines the history of the spatiality of modern states and nations and the social collectives of Western modernity in a contemporary light.
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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.