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Boundaries: Real And Imagined

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Chapter Summary

Where does the ocean end and the sky begin? Leonardo da Vinci answered this question by postulating the existence of a 'common boundary' between the two. With its maverick history and grass-root political traditions, the Netherlands provides an auspicious setting to examine the historical function of boundaries both real and imagined. A different way of looking at da Vinci's question would be to ask "are the lines on a map real?" If so, real in what sense? In da Vinci's time, many believed that the boundary between sky and water must physically consist of elements of either air, water, or both. Modern theorists, however, tend to view boundaries as a type of discursive strategy. While not possessing physical existence per se, a boundary offers not just rhetorical convenience, but also acts as a source of identity and as a basis of power.

Keywords: boundaries; Leonardo da Vinci; Netherlands; ocean; sky



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