International Space


23 February 

Neal Ascherson 
Neal Ascherson


In the worlds of international politics and diplomacy, talk of "space" arises in many different, often incompatible discourses. I shall explore the notion of international space along several of its dimensions, including:

  1. the notion of global political structure as cellular, with emphasis on the purity or homogeneity of the tissue ("space") within more or less impermeable cells walls;
  2. the notion of international space as the space unclaimed or between such cells;
  3. space as a definition of sufficiency, for a subsistence present or an expanding future -- a definition which raises the issue of incompatible valuations of space in urban and rural areas, and the need of cities to incorporate hinterlands;
  4. space as what appears when something pre-existing is removed, enabling rapid change, such as the fall of empires, or tyrannicides, or the rise of successor states -- often with the aid of new myths of "emptiness";
  5. space as "authenticity" : the "cave" hollowed out within coercive regimes within which spontaneous behaviour and self-organisation is possible; and
  6. the globalisation schema, and the assumption that all international spaces must eventually run together into a single pool.
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