26.8. Discontented Geopolitics: of Other European Spaces

Public examination of a doctoral dissertation in the field of geography
Doctoral candidate: M.Sc. Freerk Boedeltje
Time and venue 26.8.2011 at 12 noon, M102, Metria, Joensuu Campus

The European Union claims in its speeches, documents and its latest foreign policy program that a feeling of belonging to the European Union is possible. Moreover, it claims that there are indications of a European identity. This discourse of European identity is especially embodied in the belief in ‘Europeanization’ which refers to the transportation of European values beyond the formal borders of the European Union.

I argue that current hegemonic visions of Europe, based on a dubious mix of different connotations of Europe and the misleading distinction between the metaphors Europe and the European Union (EU), turns out to be problematic and result in what I would subsequently call Europe’s discontented geopolitics. In confusion, Europe is presented as a homogeneous thing-in-itself with the ideal of one name (Europe), one website (Europa.eu), a capital (Brussels), one market, one currency (euro), one identity that is characterized by diversity and, one external border.

In the grey and rather fuzzy zone between Europe and the European Union the fabrication of a limited version of Europe leads to new processes of (spatial) inclusion and exclusion. I argue that Europe is increasingly losing its historically voluntary and open meaning, and instead aiming to become a spatially defined EU-topia with membership, values and citizenship. In many occasions these ideal imaginations as scripted by the EU do not match the complex local realities and everyday lives across Europe. In order to theorize the gap between the prevalent normative discourse and the contradicting local realities I use Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopias. I will search for places that disturb the utopian image and will follow the several principles that define heterotopias, not by simply reflecting on its possible meanings but by discussing the principles of resistance to the level of real places in the EU and in its neighbourhood. Heterotopias are the ‘other’ spaces of Europe that do not represent one single place, but also incorporate complex processes in which difference or alternative spaces unfold. In this, the overall questions stands strong: Can Europe and the EU remain two separate concepts. Can Europe keep up with its promise of democracy, stability and dialogue? These are the central questions in this dissertation.

The doctoral dissertation of M.Sc. Freerk Boedeltje, entitled Discontented Geopolitics: of Other European Spaces, will be examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. The opponent in the public examination will be Professor Anssi Paasi of the University of Oulu, and the custos will be Professor James Scott of the University of Eastern Finland.

Contact: Freerk Boedeltje, +1 619 306 6576, freerk.boedeltje(at)uef.fi

Publishing year: 2011

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