In the context of an increasing interest for the concept of Europe and for the appropriateness of its evolving borders, this paper analyzes the perception of European territory from the perspective of undergraduate students from two opposite peripheries of Europe: East and West. The data was provided by a large survey applied in 2009 in Romania and Portugal on 919 students from five cities (Bucharest, Iasi, Lisbon, Coimbra and Évora) and six domains of study: geography, political and economic sciences, health, engineering’ and arts. Similar geographical and political coordinates (peripherality within continental Europe, European Union (EU) membership, public discourses about Europe) were expected to create similar levels of importance associated to Europe in the students’ general perception of the world, as well as frequent associations between Europe and the European Union. At the same time, different national contexts and different experiences of the EU membership were expected to generate specific visions regarding the composition and extension of Europe. Therefore, mental maps proved to be a useful method to show the students’ perceptions of the European territory and borders, while the vocabulary associated with Europe helped to understand and validate their spatial representations. The cross-analysis with other socio-demographic variables underlined the role of education, local context and media discourses in shaping and differentiating the students’ representations of Europe.
|Keywords:||Borders, Europe, Mental Maps, Spatial Representations|
lecturer, Department of Geography, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, IASI, ROMANIA, Romania
Department of Geography, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, IASI, Romania
professor, CEG-UL, Portugal Alameda da Universidade, LISBON, Portugal
CEG UL, Portugal Alameda da Universidade, LISBON, Portugal