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Title: Tabulae imperii Europaei :mapping European empire
Authors: Foster, Russell David
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis examines the unclear political nature of the European Union and current academic theories on how to understand and classify the EU. Placing the EU in the macrohistorical context from which it emerged, the project first critiques competing definitions of “empire” before examining the etymological and philosophical genealogy of imperium. It then uses textual analysis to trace how evolving interpretations of imperium and “empire” have influenced European historiography and political philosophy. This analysis demonstrates that “empire” is not a descriptive taxonomy but a normative discourse, expressing an imagination of power, legitimacy and sole sovereignty, used to validate the inherent inequality and manifest destiny of an imagined European community. This discourse must be publicly expressed in order to have validity, and it is most effectively conveyed in visual language. The study demonstrates that of the many forms of visual language, by far the most powerful is cartography. But while maps represent the world rather than reflect it, map-readers ascribe to maps an authority that is rarely questioned, accepting maps’ portrayals as truthful. Having established and justified a methodology based in semiotics and semantics, the project moves into an analytical focus by semiotically deconstructing the most publicly-accessible EU maps in print and virtual form and on Euro currency. These analyses demonstrate that EU maps intersect with EU iconography and inadvertently construct an imagined community defined by the discourse of empire. Such maps show the Union not as it is but as it should be – the sole sovereign of European civilisation, with supreme power, exclusive legitimacy, a manifest destiny to unite the Europeans, and inhabited by an imagined community whose imagined history partly masks an inherent, yet acknowledged, inequality. This dissertation concludes that the EU is not a sui generis construct but instead embodies a familiar historical discourse – the European Union as Empire. Unless specified, all images have been digitally photographed by the author from the cited books or copied from the cited websites, in accordance with the Copyright Licensing Act (2006) of UUK/SCOP Higher Education institutions. All websites referenced in the text were last accessed on the date of binding, 1st October 2013. Any errors of fact or interpretation remain the author’s own.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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