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Dystopias of domination

Denise Pumain
Traduction de Marie Diebold
Cet article est une traduction de :
Dystopies de la domination
Autre(s) traduction(s) de cet article :
Distopía de la dominación

Texte intégral

1Geographers and social scientists in general are familiar with the processes that create the world order and the representation we have of it. The long history of the world could be read as an endless quest for domination, by groups using weapons, ideologies and beliefs, technologies, systems of government, an incredible diversity of forms of pressure on people's lives. Little by little, moral reflection, politics, law, and sometimes science, have helped to build rules for better living together, at all scales in the world.

2Geographers analyze this negotiated fabric of multiple networks, international legislations, or laboriously elaborated regional agreements, which accompany the progress of life expectancies, of the level of education and the retraction of extreme poverty measured by the human development indexes, as well as the transformations of habits towards more respect for nature and others. These representations of the evolving world order were able to cope with the oblivion of multiple and persistent localized conflicts, the recreation of walls and borders, the obstacles consciously raised against mobility and minorities, and the failure to comply with agreements on the preservation of natural resources and on human rights. Does this short-sightedness open the way to dystopias?

3The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 had disrupted international interactions. Without changing the world order too much, the hazard revealed all the inequalities and injustices, as well as the capacities for adjustment. A previous editorial had dared to foresee some possible positive consequences in terms of solidarity and awareness for a better social and environmental management, during two years of intense fight against the virus.

4And then dystopias arose, difficult to consider or foresee, the violence of the abuses of power that domination engenders. The closing of schools for girls in Afghanistan that leaves one speechless. The old-fashioned war that organizes the destruction of the neighboring country, that seeks a victory at the cost of so many deaths, that throws several million Ukrainians out of their homes, and that recreates among populations so intertwined by their culture and their common past the seeds of mistrust and perhaps of new violence for several generations to come. The war as a live spectacle and the constant onslaught of propaganda, lies and manipulation of emotions shared on social networks. The concentrated and poorly controlled economic power of the marvelous tools of electronic communication that generate "toxic data".

5At every moment in history, in many places, when pressure becomes domination, when rules are broken, when power is abused, dystopia can happen. We should know it, we cannot accept it. At the international level, in institutions and groups, as well as at the level of each individual in the exercise of his or her usual activities, there are many of us who refuse populism, abuse, waste, violence and abuses of all kinds. Geoethics could define against these tendencies a geographical ethics in the exercise of power. It would follow the Rawlsian principle of reserving for oneself the empires to be exercised, in order to create, to propose without imposing, forms and relations, constructions and discourses, with benevolence and humility, respecting the diversity of people and places. But where has this utopia gone?

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Denise Pumain, « Dystopias of domination », Cybergeo: European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Éditoriaux, mis en ligne le 03 mai 2022, consulté le 22 juillet 2024. URL :

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