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Network nation


  • Rhys Jones
  • Peter Merriman


Academics have increasingly begun to question the significance of bounded understandings of space and place, preferring instead to approach places as open, dynamic, relational entities that are in-formation, and the ways in which different places are connected by flows of people, ideas, and material things. The aim of this paper is to focus on the implications of networked and relational ways of thinking for how we understand the notion of ‘territory’, the archetypal example of bounded space. We discuss the need to develop a greater dialogue between relational and territorial understandings of space by exploring recent work on national territories. We contend that (1) the discourses and embodied practices of actors and (2) a whole series of objects are actively involved in producing a national territory that is open, contingent, and contested. The paper focuses on empirical material relating to Welsh roads and road signs—in particular the campaign in favour of bilingual road signs in Wales during the late 1960s and 1970s—as a way of highlighting the significance of these two themes. We conclude by arguing that territories are not relics of a static world of nation-states but, rather, the contingent products of an ongoing series of connections between people, discourses, and objects. Keywords: nationalism, territory, relational space, networks, road signs, Wales

Suggested Citation

  • Rhys Jones & Peter Merriman, 2012. "Network nation," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(4), pages 937-953, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:4:p:937-953

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