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“As Germans and Europeans we must regain our digital sovereignty” – a renaissance of geopolitical thinking in the governing of the digital transformation?

Authors: Georg Glasze*, Institute of Geography
Topics: Political Geography, Cyberinfrastructure, Legal Geography
Keywords: digital geography, politics of digitalisation, spaces of digitalisation, sovereignty claims, Germany, Europe, Globalization
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Until a few years ago, the digital transformation was commonly described as one of the motors of globalization. However, in recent years, the link between digitalisation and a global network spatiality became challenged. Not surprisingly, especially authoritarian governments are propagating concepts of "digital sovereignty" drawing on a “westphalian order” in reorganising the digital transformation. However, also in European and more specifically in German politics, narratives of "digital sovereignty" have recently been taken up. Against this background, we examine how "digital transformation" has been constituted and processed as an object of politics within the political discourse in Germany since the 1990s.
The analysis confirms that the link between the digital and the global became fragile in the 2010s. There are calls and political programmes for more territorial control and regulation of data flows – a geopolitical and sometimes quite nationalistic thinking. However, at the same time digital sovereignty in Germany often becomes also linked to the concept of an individual and organisational sovereignty – to a capacity to act. Such an understanding of sovereignty as well as the related political programmes and techniques become easily integrated into geo-economic modes of argumentation and linked to global-network spatialities.

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