Spatialising International Relations: Polish Mental Mapping and the Image of Germany (1848-1871)
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This thesis investigates how spatial representations such as “the West” and “the East” shaped the Polish view of Germany between 1848 and 1871. These spatial terms gained a profound political and normative appeal as they served to draw civilisational lines between European states and the rest of the world as well as within Europe. The main argument of this thesis entails that depending on the conditions of European international relations Germany could be portrayed as “Eastern”, “backward”, and “divided” or, at other times, it was conceptualised as a “model nation-state”, “industrious” and “culturally advanced” nation. This was a mental map which helped the Polish elites navigate through uneasy waters of the nineteenth century diplomacy, revolutions and frame relationships with neighbours, most notably Germany. By combining the theories of public opinion and mental mapping, the proposed approach traces the ways in which non-state actors formulated their systemic views on international relations and strived to exercise agency through the deployment of carefully crafted discursive tools. The application of historical semantics to written contributions of the Polish public (political pamphlets and newspaper articles) enables to capture the constructed nature of “the West” and “the East”, their fluctuating and deeply contextual meaning as well as their political functionality.