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"Chunnel Visions": Unpacking the Anticipatory Geographies of an Anglo-European Borderland

Matthew Sparke


This study examines the overlapping ways in which a cross-channel "Transmanche" region has been envisioned, mapped, promoted, and thereby made part of the fast developing European political and business discourse surrounding border regions. Originally conceived along the lines of connections opened up by the Channel Tunnel, the region links the English county of Kent, the French region of Nord-Pas de Calais, and more recently, through a larger partnership that created a so-called "Euroregion", the whole of Belgium. This study unpacks three distinct future-oriented modes of visioning the cross-channel region: the infrastructural, predicated on the tunnel itself and the ties of new rail and road networks; the Eurocratic, predicated on EU funding and protocols; and the entrepreneurial, predicated on the business of promoting the region for economic development. By overlapping and drawing upon one another, these future-predicting and future-normalizing "Chunnel visions" have a material force and thus important practical consequences. Among them is the eclipse of other potentially more democratic and environmentally sustainable visions of the region.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229