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Processes of Spatialization in the Americas

Configurations and Narratives

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Edited By Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez and Hannes Warnecke-Berger

Where do the Americas begin, and where do they end? What is the relationship between the spatial constructions of «area» and «continent»? How were the Americas imagined by different actors in different historical periods, and how were these imaginations – as continent, nation, region – guided by changing agendas and priorities? This interdisciplinary volume addresses competing and conflicting configurations and narratives of spatialization in the context of globalization processes from the 19th century to the present.

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Bordering through the Lens of Slavery and Abolition in the United States

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Abstract: Political geographers refer to historical research on Europe’s borderlands as informing the emergence of “the border,” a spatial strategy associated with the rise of territoriality and the nation-state since the mid-19th century. Research on North American borderlands in the 18th and 19th century, however, has not been taken up as readily by political geographers. This chapter discusses the implications of this gap and, referencing research on the “geopolitics of freedom,” considers the emergence side-by-side of spaces of slavery and spaces of emancipation in North America to be one avenue for understanding the development of bordering practices in the United States. Observing internal border production in the United States, a union made up of individual states, may be instructive for understanding the border’s functionality beyond delimiting state sovereignty. By looking at the boundaries of slavery, this chapter argues that bordering can be understood not only as a container of state sovereignty but also as a tool in processes of state territorialization.

1Introduction

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress declared thirteen of the twenty-six British colonies in the Americas independent from the British Empire, which, following a war that consumed the major powers of the day—the French, Spanish, British empires, and many Native American nations—culminated in the creation of the United States of America, a confederated patchwork of states. The boundaries of the new American republic were defined in Versailles on September 3, 1783. According to Marie-Jeanne Rossignol, external border practices...

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