Research

Over the past two decades, the European Union has been in a phase of substantial spatial and social restructuring: its territory has increased through the accession of 13 Eastern and Southern European countries between 2004 and 2013; it has given itself a new constitution in form of the Lisbon Treaty; it is trying to cope with a severe financial crisis and the rise of nationalism and autocratic appeal in and around it; the Corona-Crisis is posing unprecedented sanitary, social and economic challenges on all scales; and currently it has to work through the loss of a member for the first time in its history. Simultaneously, the EU’s neighbourhood is also undergoing severe transformations. Not only because the “neighbourhood” changes in form of accession to the EU or secession from it (Brexit), but also in light of geopolitical shifts, such as the conflict in Ukraine, the effects of the Arab revolutions (including the wars in Syria and Libya) and the power aspirations of Turkey, Russia, Iran and some Arab States.

The socio-spatial shape of the entire macro-region around the EU, often termed the “European neighbourhood”, thus, has been changing substantially – and with it the relations between EU-members and non-members within this macro-region. Also beyond the EU and its neighbourhood, seemingly stable macro-regional orderings of the world are in flux. These transformations of global macro-regional ordering and the changing meanings of “Europe”, the EU and the relations with its “neighbours” are in the centre of this project. Against this background, it explores geographical imaginations of the socio-spatial shape of this macro-region and the spaces of interaction within it, focussing on six key countries in and around the EU (France, Germany, Turkey, Tunisia, Britain and Ireland) and covering three levels of geopolitical analysis (in higher education systems, amongst public figures, and in agenda-shaping media outlets). The project thus brings together the heterogeneous national and theoretical expertise of the involved researchers and contributes to contemporary academic debates on macroregionalization, Europeanization, the sociospatiality of the EU, and its international identity and role – including the relations with its neighbourhood and the socio-spatial shape of a larger (European) macro-region around it.

More concretely, the IMAGEUN project pursues two key ambitions. Firstly, it develops a comprehensive and dual comparative account of dominant geographical imaginations between six countries and three levels of geopolitical analysis decisive for shaping such imaginations. Secondly, and in addition to the academic output, it not only studies geopolitical agents on these levels but seeks to stimulate collective thought experiments between those geopolitical agents the involved researchers for developing visions on the future socio-spatial shape of the macro-region. As such, collaboration with fellow researchers, think tanks, political stakeholders, journalists and other public figures is an essential and enduring part of the IMAGEUN project. In so doing, it strives for broad public visibility and high political buy-in through the inclusion of these agents in the research process.

Research (fr)

Recent publications

Betty Rouland: Se soigner en Tunisie : du Maghreb à la rive sud du Sahara. https://tn.boell.org/fr/2022/01/25/se-soigner-en-tunisie-du-maghreb-la-rive-sud-du-sahara

Entretien avec Emmanuel Riondé: Le français dans un Maghreb plurilingue. https://hctc.hypotheses.org/3419