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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2000, Vol. 3 No. 2 .

Boundaries, Territory, and Postmodernity
David Newman (ed.)

London: Frank Cass
206pp. Index. HB.: ISBN 0-7146-4973-2 Pb.: ISBN 0-7146-8033-8.

David Newman as an editor of "Boundaries, Territory and Postmodernity" has gathered a collection of articles which together form a coherent story in a postmodern context about the changing imaginations and the roles of territories and boundaries. The book includes an editorial and nine articles, two from IR scholars and seven from political geographers. The book is a special issue of the journal called Geopolitics. The authors aim to clarify what kind of new ideas the renaissance of geopolitics during the last decade has brought in the academic discussions. The bad image often connected to geopolitics after the second World War is not denied by authors but moreover they emphasise the new challenges to which academic research in the field of geopolitics has confronted. The most important of these seems to be the postmodern context in which the processes such as globalisation, de-/ re-territorialisation, changing geopolitical imaginations and challenged role and function of boundaries and nation states become essential. It is argued that many pan-national but also intra-state challenges lead to a situation where the world, especially the world political map is not imagined in the same manner as it was in the beginning of the 20th century. However, all authors argue that at least in the near future there will not be a borderless world as some academics have argued. Geographical differentiation will matter, although the function of state boundaries and the meaning of space will evolve. The book contains many case studies from different parts of the world such as Israel-Palestine, Finland and Moldova. The themes of the book cover many areas from a more theoretically oriented view to a practical examples of changes experienced: postmodernism in IR, impact of globalisation on state organisation, classification between modern and postmodern world, "regulatory landscapes", the effect of information and communication technologies in shaping the internal policies and external relations of states, changing meanings of territoriality and state boundaries and ethno-territorial changing of the world political map, just to mention a few. Although some authors in their analysis go quite far from the realities of the contemporary world while predicting the future of the postmodern context, the overall reading experience for me as a political geographer was in one word: fascinating! This book is really worth reading, whether you were interested in territoriality, postmodern world, boundaries, geopolitics or ethnic conflict. Hopefully by reading the book more awareness about the multitude dimensions of (state) territories and boundaries is achieved. The different essence and idea connected to these very concepts is often one major reason behind the outburst of ethnic conflicts all over the world.

Anna-Kaisa Kuusisto, University of Joensuu, Finland

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