Present at the (Dis)integration: Deterritorialization and Reterritorialization in the New Wor(l)d Order

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Abstract

Since the end of the Cold War, the political geography of world order has been the subject of much confusion, uncertainty and speculation. Strange new tendencies are emerging in the new world (dis)order. Old geopolitical blocs are disintegrating, previously coherent unities are fracturing, and once stable identities are unraveling. Simultaneously, new geoeconomic blocs are defining themselves, emergent geographies of uneven global connectedness are taking shape, and new discourses of danger are rewriting identity and meaning in global affairs. Old Cold War word orders are giving way to new post-Cold War word orders. This paper explores this double dynamic of deterritorialization and reterritorialization in the new world order through an analysis of US. foreign policy discourse. Beginning with observations on deterritorialization from the 1992 presidential election, we examine how fresh geopolitical, geoeconomic and geoecological readings of global politics after the Cold War are reterritorializing the surface of global affairs. Official and foreign policy community narratives of (1) the West versus the rest, (2) the best in the West, and (3) planetary ecological crisis are re-mapping understandings of global politics in the 1990s. Rather than championing any of these narrative maps of meaning, we point to an emergent global political geography of “tame” and “wild” zones in a differentially connected global informational economy.

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