A Step Outside: Observations from the World's Youngest State



The following text provides observations and reflections based on a visit to the South Sudanese capital of Juba in February 2012. Specifically, it addresses three aspects: (i) the Kenyan involvement in South Sudan as (perceived) sub-imperialism; (ii) the place of the European Union (EU) compound, the collective space of the embassies of the EU and its member states in Juba; and (iii) a twofold plea for normativity in human geographic research and in the civilian aspects of the European integration process. Through these observations, this paper suggests a ‘grounded geopolitical research at the margins’ involving locally embedded fieldwork in a variety of empirical settings, including geopolitically marginalized ones. In so doing, I highlight how a ‘step outside’ the box of our accustomed intellectual (and geographical) environment provides not only a better understanding of different geopolitical conditions, assumptions and narratives but also fresh perspectives on our own ones.