image from BLDG BLOG

I recently ran into a three years old article that Geoff Manaugh wrote for his BLDG BLOG about the peculiar legal status of the town of Baarle-Hertog. In fact, this city embedded into Dutch territory is fragmented into several pieces of land that belong to respectively Belgium or Netherlands. Because those territories are situated in the center of the Schengen space, this fragmented legal status does not imply the same violent consequences that what can be observed in the West Bank between Palestinian towns and Israeli settlements; however, it is peculiar enough to note that some houses are split between the two countries and in that case, new born’s nationality have to be decided depending on the room their mother have been delivering in (that might be a myth but the Financial Times affirms it !).

About a year ago, coming back from Palestine, I drew a map that I entitled The Palestinian Archipelago (it turned out that a few people had a similar idea earlier !) in order to represent the fragmentation of the Palestinian territory that was triggered by the 1993 Oslo Accords. This map of Baarle-Hertog introduces something similar (although, once again the spatial consequences are much lighter) and one could talk about the Belgium archipelago within this Dutch territory with the interesting observation that even on the Belgium “islands”, one can notice Dutch “lakes” that complexify even more the spatial condition.

Geoff Manaugh fairly recently relinked his article in an interview he did of China MiĆ©ville and that was tackling the spatial question of his book The City & The City (that I am currently finishing). This novel, that introduce two cities situated in the same geographical location but invisible to each other, was also evoked in an article that Ed Keller was kind enough to send me also comparing this book with the Israel/Palestine conflict (I am not agreeing with everything written in this article but it’s definitely worth reading).