Questioning imaginaries of Europe through ultraperiphericity and French postcolonial contexts of the Caribbean


22 septembre 2023    
11:00 - 12:30


This paper related to ANR-DFG Imageun contract takes place during the Deutscher Kongress für Geographie 2023 conference, in the « Critical political geographies of Europe and the EU » session animated by Veit Bachmann (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt) & Antoine Laporte (École Normale Supérieure de Lyon)
Camille Dabestani (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne UMR8406 Géographie-cités)

As part of the Caribbean, Martinique and Guadeloupe are at the crossroads of plural spatial ensembles in the representations of the world. Associated with France and Europe through administrative and institutional status, socio-spatial proximities and discontinuities produced in this context of geographical distance and post-coloniality question the imaginaries associated with regions of the world and their relations. Among these imaginaries, Europe is a polarising space.
How is Europe mobilised in macro-regional imaginaries constructed from territories in a postcolonial situation and institutionally positioned as ‘ultraperiphery’? How do projections into the future of the macro-regional entities shed light on the reconfigurations of representations of Europe?
In the context of critical political geography and geography of representations, this proposal invites to study the construction of macro-regional imaginaries by students in Martinique and Guadeloupe and to question the relationships and representations of Europe, its institutions and their reconfigurations.
This study mobilises on the one hand a digital cartographic questionnaire distributed to students of the Université des Antilles (Martinique and Guadeloupe poles) in November 2021 (231) in the framework of the ANR-DFG IMAGEUN (2020-24). On the other hand, semi-directive interviews were conducted with students from the same university between October and December 2022 (27). The survey allowed to question the positioning and redefinition of the imaginary associated with Europe by asking them about their sense of belonging, their spatial representations on a macro-regional scale and their projections into the future based on mental maps.
Five main spaces with varying definitions emerged from the responses (Caribbean, West Indies, Americas, Europe and France). Europe and the EU are used relatively in the questionnaire (15% of the regions named) but ambiguity in the relationship to Europe is central in the interviews. Europe can be perceived as a distant entity, to be maintained as such and associated with colonial empires. It can be associated with interference in local politics limiting their economic and political integration in the Caribbean. Confusions between Europe and the EU are also important, with Europe being mobilised to express administrative and institutional status within the EU. In this framework, Europe and France can be positioned as comparable and comparative political entities. The differentiated relationship between the two entities tends to associate Europe with a more positive image than France, the former being perceived as less controlling and granting funds necessary for the realisation of projects in the territories. Students also point out the visibility of European funding in the public and social space.
This paper will develop projections into the future in order to analyse the evolution of representations and relations with Europe and its institutions.

Caribbean|Europe|Imaginaries|Postcolonial|Sense of belonging

Imageun contract presentation

Session presentation