Social Imaginaries of Space
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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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Chapter 4: Concept 2: state imaginary of territory

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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