FRAL - Appel Franco-allemand en sciences humaines et sociales

In the Mirror of the European Neighbourhood (Policy): Mapping Macro-Regional Imaginations. – IMAGEUN

Submission summary

The European Union is in a phase of substantial spatial and social restructuring: its territory has increased through the accession of 14 Eastern and Southern European countries since 2004; 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; 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 we propose to explore geographical imaginations of the socio-spatial shape of this macro-region and the spaces of interaction within it, focussing on five key countries in and around the EU (France, Germany, Turkey, Tunisia, and the UK) and covering three levels of geopolitical analysis (in higher education systems, amongst political stakeholders, and in agenda-shaping media outlets).

In so doing we bring together the heterogeneous national and theoretical expertise of the involved researchers and will contribute to contemporary academic debates on macro-regionalization, 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, we pursue two key ambitions. Firstly, we seek to develop a comprehensive and dual comparative account of dominant geographical imaginations between five countries and three levels of geopolitical analysis decisive for shaping such imaginations. Secondly, and in addition to the academic output, we intend to not only study geopolitical agents on these levels but actively work with them for collectively developing visions on the future socio-spatial shape of the macro-region. As such, collaboration with fellow researchers, think tanks, political stakeholders and journalists is an essential and enduring part of this project that ensures broad public visibility and high political buy-in through the inclusion of these agents in the research process.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Claude GRASLAND (CIST)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LADYSS Laboratoire dynamiques sociales et recomposition des espaces
GUF Goethe Universität Frankfurt
FAU Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen

Help of the ANR 317,778 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: April 2020 - 36 Months

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