Chapter One

The Dead Relative: Bounding Europe in Europe

Geopolitics by Nobody

When investigating the use of geographical and geopolitical claims in the European Quarter, I often hear that such claims do not matter. For many of my interviewees – multilingual cosmopolitan foreign affairs professionals – ‘geography’ connotes the given, the immutable, and the limiting. Geography associates vaguely with things like regional planning – useful but unexciting – and geopolitics alludes to some of the more troubled facets of Europe’s history. Some of my interlocutors appear intrigued by the concept of geopolitics, but others find it distasteful although they are too polite to say so. Even asking questions about a geographical concept, Europe in this case, is deemed an odd activity: out-of-date and slightly suspicious, like enquiring about a dead relative who passed away in unclear circumstances.

The narrative that pervades the European Quarter suggests that European integration is an anti-geopolitical project. Integration has enabled Europe’s nation-states to mend their historical antagonisms and overcome the violence inherent in territorial power politics. As an idea and a political project, Europe transcends rigid borders internally and externally. Internally, inter-state tensions have been transferred from the realm of high politics into administration as the member states have pooled their sovereignty in one regulatory space in many spheres of societal life. Externally, the union is a new ...

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