Internet fragmentation and the formation of digital borders:
an analysis from the standpoint of critical geography

Zinovieva E.S.,

MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia; HSE University, Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 625192 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2022.02.02
For citation:

Zinovieva E.S. Internet fragmentation and the formation of digital borders: an analysis from the standpoint of critical geography. – Polis. Political Studies. 2022. No. 2. P. 8-21. (In Russ.).

The article was published as part of the project “Post-crisis world order: challenges and technologies, competition and cooperation” grant No. 2020-1902-01-372.


In recent years, the number of scientific publications devoted to the fragmentation of the Internet has been increasing; specialized terms such as “Internet Balkanization” and “Divided Internet” have appeared to describe the new state of the de-globalized information space. As a rule, this process is associated with the emergence of digital boundaries on the Internet. At the same time, according to statistics, the volume of data crossing the borders of states continues to grow. Thus, information globalization at the data level coexists with the strengthening of digital boundaries and attempts to strengthen digital sovereignty. Critical geography allows us to study digital boundaries not only as material objects, but also as social constructs, discursive practices that reflect the nature of power relations in the international arena and are a source of power for those who create and control them. According to critical geography, digital borders, due to their social nature, are not impenetrable and the construction of digital borders, therefore, does not mean the end of information globalization. The article identifies two levels of digital boundaries – discursive and ontological. At the discursive level, they reflect the securitization of the information sphere and the transformation of the balance of power, the formation of multipolarity, and at the ontological level, they are designed primarily to protect against threats to information security. At the same time, states are interested in the benefits that the global connected Internet provides. Its connectivity is boosted by businesses, which act as the subject of the formation of new global digital spaces, contributing to the globalization of the market in order to increase profits.  

Internet, globalization, de-globalization, critical geography, international information security, digital sovereignty, digital borders, digital geography.


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Content No. 2, 2022

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Introducing an article

Polis. Political Studies
3 2003

Safonov M.V.
Modern Approaches to the Study of International Institutions (With Studies of the “Big Eight” as Instance)

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