ELDEN, , p. In general, the significant strands of thinking about space are in broad agreement about the ways in which space is understood by various disciplines. In geography, space has been thought of in a trilogy of absolute, relative and relational space.
Subsequent explanations interpret, explain and qualify these three categories and develop upon this trilogy. It is relevant at this stage to explain these formulations of space as they form the background for this paper which intends to situate the BRICS as one such variety of spatial conceptions.
Space as an absolute is understood as a geometrical system of organization usually Euclidean geometry with x, y, and z dimensions in which people and objects are located and move through. This is space as fixed, as a container, as something in which all things happen. Space can therefore be represented as a two or three dimensional grid, imposed over a landscape in surveying or cartography ELDEN, , p.
John Agnew's 'territorial trap' seeks to clarify such absolute conceptions of space in the International Relations theory. He labels them as the geographical assumptions of IR theory and argues that the following assumptions have led to a territorial conception of the state in the first place.
This has served to de-historicize and de-contextualize processes of state formation and disintegration. The state centricity of the transactions carried out in the international system reinforces the state's territorial character and its territoriality is based on an absolute conception of space.
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The latter two assumptions emanate from the first one and emphasize the absolute nature of the state-space. State spaces are represented as absolute spaces and containers of societies which inhabit them. This holds true for the individual components of the BRICS, as the constituent states act in the international system as other similar territorial entities. For the BRICS as a group, an absolute conception is a misnomer, as the group itself evolved in relation to the developed world.
Nevertheless, the BRICS states, owing to the prevalence of the Westphalian territoriality in the international system, do assert administrative control over their respective territories. China has territorial land disputes with Bhutan, Vietnam and Myanmar. In the same region, Vietnam and Taiwan claim the Paracel Islands. With India, China has since entered into a dialogue over various issues of territorial control and boundary management which extend across the Himalayan expanse CIA, India, apart from the boundary disputes with China, faces problems with Pakistan on its western expanse; many of these boundary questions have their roots in the partition of the country into two separate states during independence in Illegal Bangladeshi immigration has been a constant source of discussion in the Indian media.
This migration occurs because of lack of proper demarcation of the border and the existence of enclaves on both sides of the border. Effective management of the border with Bangladesh is also lacking.
There are contested boundary sections with Nepal over which a Joint Border Committee frequently deliberates, especially with respect to the demarcation of river boundaries and the sharing of water of the many rivers which straddle Indian and Nepalese territory. Russia, owing to its vast expanse and sharing of borders with many states in Europe and Asia, also shares many cartographic anxieties. The sovereignty dispute over the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and the Habomai group, known in Japan as the "Northern Territories" and in Russia as the "Southern Kurils," occupied by the Soviet Union in , now administered by Russia, and claimed by Japan, remains the primary sticking point to signing a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities.
China and Russia have de-marcated the once disputed islands at the Amur and Ussuri confluence and in the Argun River in accordance with a Agreement, ending their centuries-long border disputes CIA, One way to understand this is to recognize that space is not an empty container, but filled with objects and relations.
Space is, according to this argument, in part dependent on that relation to objects, as it is a positional quality of a world of material things. Relative space can also be based on challenging the fixed geometries of absolute space. This would include the development of multiple geometries that rejects some of the key postulates of Euclid, while retaining a coherency and consistency, and recognizing that the perspective of the observer plays a key role" ELDEN, , p. This way of thinking about space coheres with the way the BRICS have been formulated in geopolitical competition with the 'West'.
The term global South in opposition to the global North is another example where the term 'North' represents the developed economies and the term 'South'represents the developing world. So, it is very difficult to define the North as well as the South, if it is not spoken of together or in relation to each other, as indicated by Raewyn Connell :. I mainly talk of "metropole" and "periphery," but there is enormous social diversity within each; recognizing the polarity is only the beginning of analysis, not the end. Thus, there is a South, only because there is a North. BRICS in its evolution has followed similar trajectories and has transformed from a developing space of the South into a space of emerging economies in relation to a space of developed economies of the North.
A development over the absolute and relative conceptions of the space is relational space. In this sense, space is relational because objects exist only as a system of relationships to other objects. Space is thus seen as the product of interrelations, as constituted by them. Space is a multiplicity, heterogeneous rather than homogenous, plural rather than singular.
Space, it was argued, was not a given, neutral, and passive geometry, and essentialist and teleological in nature.
Instead, space was conceived as relational, contingent, and active, as something that is produced or constructed by people through social relations and practices. Space is not an absolute geometric container in which social and economic life takes place, rather it is constitutive of such relations KITCHIN, , p. The fundamental reason behind the creation of BRICS seems to provide an alternative to the economic and financial institutions IMF and World Bank as the primary regulators of the international economic system.
The BRICS development fund and the BRICS bank are efforts in this direction; to capture some of the economic space as donors and aid providers with less stringent conditionalities to the developing world. The two institutions also aim to counter the "unintended negative spillovers of unconventional monetary policies of certain developed economies" VENU, In many ways the BRICS, therefore, are an attempt to alter the economic relations within the global space and it a strategy in relation to that of the 'West'.
BRICS as a group can then transform the global space, not in its absolute sense, but in very fundamental ways by transforming the global relations of the North and the South. Emergence of China as an economic powerhouse and the subsequent geopolitical shifts indicate, there are multiple ways to think about the global space. A pertinent example is the gradual influence and acceptance of Chinese capital on the African continent.
The project of the United States of America to re-formulate its Asia-Pacific strategy into Indo-Pacific is another example of how space is relational and how it is produced in consonance with time. The term Indo-Pacific, in this instance, is a geopolitical code for China, a new and geo-strategic conception of the space connecting the two oceans Indo-Pacific which encircle China geographically. After the acceptance of the idea that space is constantly produced by society and is dynamic in nature viz. Harvey and Lefebvre , geographers have invested intellectually in the project of human practices while conceptualizing space.
The author suggests that the global economy is headed towards a rough patch. Does a superpower collision loom? To challenge a stronger and technologically superior power like the U. Herring, George This article argues that the problem is not the global market, but rather the absence of national and international regulation of the market, including of transnational corporations TNCs.
Reflecting upon own earlier work Harvey , p. I still hold to a fundamentally correct position with respect to the social construction of space: space is neither absolute, relative nor relational in itself, but it can become one or all simultaneously depending on the circumstances. The problem of the proper conceptualization of space is resolved through human practice with respect to it.
The question "what is space?
The most influential description and account of space in the twentieth century is considered to be that of Henri Lefebvre. Lefebvre's Social Production of Space. Lefebvre's conception of space has been interpreted since the publication of his book and has received wide attention in the Anglophone world after its translation in Like Marx, his objective was to analyse the capitalist society but the object of his research was the nature of social space in the capitalist society.
Here, generative means 'active'and 'creative', and creation, and, says Lefebvre , p, 34 , 'is, in fact, a process '. For Lefebvre, there are three key determinants of space: spatial practices, representations of space and spaces of representation or repre-sentational space KITCHIN, , p. Spatial practices refer to the processes, flows, movements, and behaviours of people and things that can be perceived in the world KITCHIN, , p. Spatial practices can be revealed by 'deciphering' space and have close affinities, to people's perceptions of the world, of their world, particularly with respect to their everyday world and its space Merrifield, , p.
Can the BRICS then be thought of as a product of one of the most significant spatial process of the last three decades, i.
As an economic process, globalization has created a global interdependence among states for commodities, has created flow networks with tremendous spatial dimensions, has improved mobility of the humans and has subsequently altered the notions of space. On the one hand, some places have moved closer together in relative space. The trajectories of national, regional and local economies have become even more enmeshed within a network of global financial flows and transactions" SHORT, , p. One can argue that it was possible to conceive of the BRICS together by the consultant Jim O'Neill, and later on as a BRICS space or group of states because these states ended up deriving economic benefits from global capitalism during the same phase and economic gains translated into assertiveness in the political realm.
The process has created similar spaces within respective states, created large middle classes which derived economic benefits and at some levels a cultural uniformity can also be witnessed. Representations of space, refers to conceptualized space, to the space constructed by assorted professionals and technocrats.
Representations of space refer to the discursive media e. This space comprises the various arcane signs, jargon, codifications and objectified representations used and produced by these agents and players. For the BRICS, such codifications, jargon and symbols have been plentiful emerging economies, regional powers, anchor countries, emerging powers, middle powers etc. These labels are reflective of the prior metaphors about the developing world like the Third World, Less Industrialized countries and the Global South.
Sidaway , p.
A new global spatiality is the experience of the last few decades in which the BRICS nations are more present than ever in modern human history dominated by Europe or the United States. Representational space or space of representations is directly lived in space, the space of everyday experience. Spaces of representation are the spaces that are produced by people in everyday practice; the spaces lived in and felt by people as they weave their way through everyday life KITCHIN, , p. The overriding feature of the new global experience is the rise of China based on its manufacturing sector.
The influx of Chinese manufactured goods is pervasive in its reach. Russia and Brazil have reinforced their presence in the economic sector by providing raw materials to the international market.