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Articles in Seduced by the Map

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 7, Final)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 29, 2022 |

While colonial dependencies get at least a token nod on the CIA map, military bases are nowhere to be seen. It is tempting to infer that the reason bases do not appear on political maps is, well, political: would one really expect the CIA to draw attention to American military footholds around the globe? While that may well be part of the story, their omission has an inherent cartographic logic as well (borne out by its recurrence on similar maps made in other countries).

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 6)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 28, 2022 |

We now come to the most important acknowledged gap between the world model (based on theoretically equivalent national units) and the world map: the remaining colonial and post-colonial dependencies. Most of these territories are so small that they are a challenge to depict when mapping at the global scale.

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 5)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 23, 2022 |

As this inventory reveals, getting a handle on all the subtleties of the international system is a maddening pursuit. The closer we look, the more irregularities we find. Riddled with contested boundaries and competing claims—and alive with moving borders, shared sovereignties, exclaves and enclaves, ghost states and para-countries—the political patchwork we actually inhabit is a precarious and jerry-rigged affair.

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 4)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 21, 2022 |

Nesting territories, like temporally fluctuating Pheasant Island, are a good example of geo-anachronisms: survivals of a pre-modern order that was built on radically different premises from the modern norm of clean-cut, stable borders. Geo-anachronism has other telltale expressions as well, especially in Europe.

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 3)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 20, 2022 |

Thus far we have looked at cases where the official U.S. government map has persisted in showcasing lapsed, divided, or phantom nation-states. Another way that is misleads is by not representing a class of functional states: those whose existence is officially denied by the international community.

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 2)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 14, 2022 |

Consider the strange case of Belgium. Starting in 2010, the Belgian legislature went for more than a year and a half without being able to form a government, and it failed to do so for an even longer period following a governmental collapse in 2018. While such hiatuses would usually be taken as an alarming indicator of a faltering state, these ones barely raised an eyebrow in the international community…

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 1)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 13, 2022 |

Consider Somalia and Yemen. In the terms of political scientist Robert Jackson, both today are “quasi-states”[4]that have lost control over most of their putative territory. While it is theoretically possible for Somalia or Yemen to experience a renaissance in the coming years, that scenario seems unlikely.

Seduced by the Map, Introduction (Part 4)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 9, 2022 |

Insightful though Khanna’s cartography may be, rumors of the death of the state are greatly exaggerated. Despite the undeniable rise of global networks, I see no evidence that territorially bounded polities are going away. As has always been the case, spatially dispersed non-hierarchically structured networks intersect with hierarchically structured and spatially bounded power.

Seduced by the Map, Introduction (Part 2)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 7, 2022 |

The emergence of the fully territorial state, like the nation that it came to be associated with, was a gradual process. As Michael Biggs shows, cartography was crucial to the process.[39] In the sixteenth century, European states began mapping their lands to enhance their power and prestige, and by the late eighteenth century national map surveys were common.

Seduced by the Map, Chapter One: The Seductive Nation-State Model (Part 1)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 6, 2022 |

Seduction is not necessarily a bad thing.[1] That which is capable of seducing is by definition attractive. So it is with the standard world model. A political order based on a stable set of equivalent states, each representing its citizens and seeking to provide them with security and other benefits, is a deeply attractive prospect, whatever the countervailing draw of …

Seduced by the Map Bibliography

By Martin W. Lewis | September 1, 2022 |
Seduced by the Map Bibliography

Dear Readers,
Many of the endnotes in the Seduced by the Map segments that I have been posting, and will continue to post, refer to a bibliography. This bibliography is posted here. The formatting, unfortunately, is inconsistent.
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Seduced by the Map Bibliography
Abrahamian, Atossa. 2015. The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizens. New York: Columbia Global Reports.
Acemoglu, Daron and Robinson, James A.  2012. …

Seduced by the Map Introduction (Part 2)

By Martin W. Lewis | August 31, 2022 |
Seduced by the Map Introduction (Part 2)

Capturing Geographical Complexity: Beyond the Standard Map
While the illusion of the universal nation-state has several sources, one is particularly powerful. Since World War II, people around the world have been exposed to one or another variant of a standard world political map. Whatever their differences, all these maps operate in the same fundamental way: by portraying the globe like a …

Seduced by the Map, Introduction (Part 1)

By Martin W. Lewis | August 30, 2022 |
Seduced by the Map, Introduction (Part 1)

The central argument of this work is that such common ground does exist and can be found in a fundamental misperception of what polities such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria actually are. According to the prevalent model of global geopolitics, these countries—like all others—are fully realized nation-states.

Why I Am Posting Rather Than Publishing “Seduced by the Map”

By Martin W. Lewis | August 29, 2022 |
Why I Am Posting Rather Than Publishing “Seduced by the Map”

Some six years ago I suspended GeoCurrents because I felt that I needed to write another scholarly book before I retired to maintain academic credibility. I had long been blogging on and teaching about the mismatch between the conventional political map and actual geopolitical conditions, and figured that it would make a nice book project. As I was already working …

The Development of National Languages in the Germanic Zone of Northern Europe

By Martin W. Lewis | July 17, 2022 |

As is largely the case across the world, the development of national languages in the Germanic zone of northern Europe was more the product of state consolidation than the reflection of preexisting ethnolinguistic communities.

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