On the Metageography of Euro-Asia
Korhonen, P. (2011). On the Metageography of Euro-Asia. In J. Kakonen, S. Chaturvedi, & A. Sengupta (Eds.), 'Euro-Asia' at the Crossroads. Geopolitics, Identities and Dialogues (pp. 19-43). Delhi: Shipra Publications.
© Shipra Publications. This is an author's final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in the book (please see the citation above) by Shipra Publications. Deposited with the kind permission of the publisher.
[Introduction] The main purpose of this article is to try to understand from a long historical perspective the changes taking place in our understanding of the concept of Asia within the larger geopolitical entity of Eurasia. Even the most omphalopsychotic European researchers cannot by now have failed to recognize that something is happening in Asia, that “Asia is rising” and moving forward with great developmental energy.1 This economy based perspective towards Asia is nowadays a commonplace, and there is no point in going once again through the statistics here. Instead, I try to take a look at the metageographical assumptions that we have when we discuss Asia as a geopolitical phenomenon. By metageography I mean the usually unreflected and often unconscious set of spatial conceptual tools with which people arrange their knowledge of the world. This results in a more or less mythical set of categories of ancient or more recent origin, with which the world is arranged into regions containing characteristics based on a mixture of social, political, racial, cultural, religious, economic, etc., narratives. The result often tends to approach what we can call geographic concordance, where disparate phenomena are supposed to exhibit the same variation in space, so that different regions become systematically essentialized. For instance, ‘Europeanness’ is supposed to permeate everything in the region named Europe, and likewise ‘Asianness’ is the basic characteristic of the region named Asia. To be able to set the current discussion into a perspective, I shall employ a really long temporal framework for analysing changes in the concept of Asia, starting from ancient Greek geography over two millennia ago. [Continues. Please see the article] ...