Notes on Continental Constitutional Identities.

AuthorGussen, Benjamen Franklen

TABLE OF CONTENTS I. INTRODUCTION 68 II. WHAT IS A CONTINENTAL CONSTITUTIONAL IDENTITY AND WHY IT MATTERS 76 A. Institutional Geography and Constitutions 78 1. Geography-of-Constitutions 80 2. Geography-in-Constitutions 82 B. Why Is a Constitutional Occultation of Continental Identities a Problem? 88 C. The Solution: Nestedness 90 III. THE AFRICAN MISALIGNMENT 94 A. Africa as a Constitutional Identity in Arab League Countries 96 B. Continental Occultation East of the Sinai 101 C. The Trans-Sinaic Geography 108 D. Towards Trans-Sinaic Integration 107 IV. CODA 119 I. INTRODUCTION

Can geographic conventions influence constitutional identities--that is, do they influence the emergence of identities in national constitutions? Can these identities nurture a strategic intent that would clash with the interests of transcontinental polities? Are intercontinental clashes also nurtured through occultation. where the constitutions of some polities neglect the national ethos inherent in continental geographies? (1) In astronomy, a lunar occultation occurs when the Moon appears to move in front of another celestial object, thus making the object hidden from the observer. Some constitutions perform a similar function to the Moon by preventing the people from observing their national ethos. In search of answers to these questions, our intellectual journey starts in Eurasia, a continent that encompasses over one-third of the total land area on this planet. This is a well-defined continent based on the (European) mapmakers' convention for defining continents:

By the 16th century at the latest, continent had come to denote a landmass of very great size, possessing a well-defined maritime perimeter, and linked to other continents either hy a single isthmus--as Africa is joined to Asia and the two Americas to one another--or not at all, as in the cases of Australia and Antarctica, the two island continents in the Southern Hemisphere. However, Eurasia is not culturally homogenous. It forms six cultural zones (Europe, West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia), where "Western civilization is reduced to the status of one case in a group of four comparable civilizations" (the other three being West Asia, South Asia, and East Asia). (3) On the other hand, there is an

anomaly in our typology of continents... [because of the international community's] habit of listing Europe as one of the seven continents, when it does not comply with the... definition [of a continent] at all precisely. The "continent" of Europe is a product partly of the Mediterranean need for a term to inscribe and describe the lands west of the Bosporus, and partly of the exceptionally self-centered and world-dominating outlook developed by a civilization that evolved in those lands. The notion of a "continent" was formed in that civilization, but it applies only inexactly to "the continent of Europe." (4) The essence of this world-dominating outlook can be distilled into one painting where continents, barring one, are all depicted as White women. In The Four Continents, while the Flemish prominent artist Peter Paul Rubens depicts Europe and Asia as two White women, the brunette woman as Europe and the blonde woman as Asia, potentially suggesting a shared Eurasian identity, he places these women at opposite ends of the painting, with Europe on the left, and Asia on the right. (5) Rubens places Africa, the only non-White woman in the painting, in the middle, which I will return to discuss in detail below. As to America, it can be seen behind Asia, as if on the other side of the Bering Strait that separates Russia from the United States. This seventeenth-century painting captures a collective consciousness of a European continental identity distinctly separate from that of Asia. One can trace this separateness to the sixth century BC in the work of Anaximander, who conceived of the Phasis River of western Georgia (known today as the Rioni River) as separating Europe from Asia. (6) In other maps, Europe is conceived of as the continent north of the equator, while Asia is the continent south of the equator. (7) The key point is that, historically, humanity's imagination of continental geography continued to reflect the evolution of our world consciousness. Grouping countries into continents allowed for new conventions to emerge. Notwithstanding this, Eurasia, within this consciousness, does not exist, or, if it did, it would only exist as an irrational fear where Europe continues to labor under the thirteenth-century failed attempt by the Mongols to give birth to a Eurasian socio-political identity that is aligned with its geographic identity. (8)

Surprisingly, however, Eurasia as a continental identity continues to influence international relations in the twenty-first century, given the Russian Federation's

development of Eurasian integration in post-Soviet Eurasia (PSE). This includes fostering the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as part of what can be called Putin's 'heartland' strategy, to avoid PSE becoming a zone of contestation between stronger outside powers. This is in keeping with the pragmatic Eurasianism advanced above all by Nursultan Nazarbayev (1994). the president of Kazakhstan between 1991 and 2019, who can claim to be the progenitor of Eurasian integration through his famous speech at Moscow State University in 1994. (9) Nonetheless, the Russian Constitution has always been silent on any continental identity. (10) This occultation can be traced back to the Russian Constitution of 1906, (11) as well as the 1936 Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (12) Even today, the Russian Constitution does not reflect any aggregation of a collective consciousness, neither in reference to Eurasia nor to Europe. (13) Why?

It is useful here to provide a map of the "Slavic World," which includes the Russian Federation and its European and Asian parts. (14) See Figure 1 below. Note especially the size of Russia's Asian part relative to Europe, including the Russian part. Russia's Asia is as large as Europe. We can think of Russia as looking simultaneously to both the East and the West.

Europe is suffering from a direct clash between two continental projects: the European Union and the Eurasian Union. (16) A Eurasian continental identity is in direct opposition to the geographic identity of the European Union (EU), and more importantly, to the role played by the United States in Europe through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The long evolution of a European civilization, and its offshoots in the New World, militates against a replacement of this continental identity with that of Eurasia. Put differently, a Eurasian continental identity would make the members of the European Union the "Ukraine" of Eurasia (i.e., at the border of a continent dominated by other superpowers (including China)). (17) This would also make the United States a continent like that imagined by Rubens--a continent that lies beyond the horizon, relatively irrelevant to the evolution of this Eurasian identity.

No wonder, therefore, that the United States would see Eurasia as a threat to its hegemony. (18) Consequently, the United States has been curtailing the possibility of a Eurasian integration by nurturing Slavic identities that are distinct from Russia, and by helping these countries integrate instead into Europe. (19) A case in point is Ukraine, which together with "Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan--became focal points of American policy, in part because of the role they could play in curtailing Russian power." (20) However, Eurasia is also a direct threat to what came to be known as "Chimerica," the symbiotic "partnership between the big saver and the big spender." (21) While some have argued that Chimerica is in decline due to intensifying geopolitical competition between the United States and China, the positive expectations of further Chimerican economic integration seems to continue to play a major role in their geopolitical cooperation. (22) Put differently, China continues to evolve into the kingmaker in the third millennium. The success or failure of the European and Eurasian Unions hinges on whether China will continue "courting" the United States or will eventually decide to "elope" with Russia and Europe.

There are, therefore, two options for nesting a Global North: (23) one led by the European Union, and one led by a Eurasian Union. The winning option will depend on China's geopolitical choices. Is the world ready to imagine a geography that diverges from a Eurocentric paradigm? Answering this question goes beyond what I set out to elucidate in this Article, namely, the use of continental constitutional identities as an analytical tool. The complexities of the analysis necessitate a much wider enquiry than that feasible in a journal article. In comparison, however, a nesting analysis concerning Africa is achievable, due to the relatively small-scale realignment necessitated by a fusion of continental identities east and west of the Sinai Peninsula. (24) The Article will therefore focus on this nesting. The wider enquiry, notwithstanding, will be outlined in the last Part, Part IV, for possible research extensions.

For Africa, the shadow of Eurasia over Europe is replicated by a lingering aftereffect of a colonial geography. Rubens's masterpiece The Four Continents shows Africa as a Black woman, seated below the other three continents, with her back to the viewer; she is the only one staring back at him, her gaze piquing his curiosity. (25) This understanding of Africans as Black, in stark contrast to White Europeans, was not limited only to the cultural sphere. Blackness became the basis for defining the boundaries of Africa and influenced European mapmakers beginning in the thirteenth century. While the map of Africa as it stands today suggests that the...

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