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Policy and Geopolitics: Bounding Europe in EUrope

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This article analyzes geopolitics as a bureaucratic practice conducted by career policy professionals. Empirically, I investigate how the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) continuously produces and transforms the geopolitical category of “Europe” inside the European Union's (EU) policymaking bureaucracy—or EUrope as it is called colloquially. Drawing in part from forty-six interviews with thirty-five policy professionals, the article elucidates how these professionals use the concept of Europe in their daily work on ENP—not how they understand the concept intellectually but how they actually deploy it in policy discussions. Theoretically, I clarify how practical geopolitics operates through banal assumptions that are activated occasionally but present in an unremarkable way every day, how geopolitical categories are problematized inside policymaking bureaucracies, and how grand geopolitical visions are given specific technical content within everyday policy processes. The EU is an important example of this process because of its sheer global weight as well as the novel transnational character of its institutions. The argument advances two related strands of work in human geography: one on the role of public policy in producing social realities and the other on the capacity of specific individuals to shape geopolitical discourses.
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Keywords: Europa; Europe; European Union; Unión Europea; critical geopolitics; estadistas intelectuales; geopolítica crítica; intellectuals of statecraft; policy; política

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography,University of British Columbia,

Publication date: 01 September 2011

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