NATIONALISM STUDIES AND THE SPATIAL TURN: THE CONCEPT OF NATIONAL TERRITORY
The modern “spatial turn” in humanities and social sciences has launched an interest in problems of space related to the phenomenon of nationalism. The basic concept through which the spatial issues are being investigated in the nationalism studies is territory, which is understood as a delineated space shaped through relations of power. Already the very definition of nationalism as a modern form of sovereignty contains a clear reference to the spatial dimension. Namely, in order to define the sovereignty of a nation, with a possibility of establishing a nation-state, one has to demarcate the reach of the national territory which would belong to the nation. This paper critically evaluates the approaches which analyse national territory as an instrument of violence and a factor of identity. Within the discourse of nationalism one can identify two different groups of arguments regarding the appropriation of territories by the nation: the natural and the historical. Natural arguments are already clearly presented in the writings of Johann Gottfried Herder and they are based on an assumption that there is an organic link and congeniality between the natural and geographical features of the land, and the characteristic features of a nation. On the other hand, the historical arguments are based on the claim that a certain territory represents a nation’s place of birth, or that it had belonged to the nation in a certain significant point in history. Discourses of nationalism regularly encompass different strategies and mechanisms of space representation, with a purpose to show that the national territory is an organic whole, as well as an indivisible and inviolable entity.