Drawing on Roy and Ong’s work on worlding, this article introduces the concept of orders of difference to analyze the selective incorporation of the nation-state into supranational political and economic systems. I argue that attending to orders of difference is necessary to better understand the ways that imagined equality is mobilized to reproduce global injustice. I do so through a combined examination of the liberal globalism of the iconic “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney theme parks and Iceland’s role in the Icesave dispute—a key struggle of the 2007–8 financial crisis. The design of the Small World1 ride effects a form of worlding by ordering differences into those that are similar enough to be permitted and those that are too different to be incorporated. In the process, the ride invokes a small world2 that precisely encapsulates the more complex globalisms that inform the organizational structure of supranational bodies like the European Union and European Economic Area. Global finance is said to be one of the world’s most seamless supranational systems, but one of its many seams was made visible during the Icesave dispute as two orders of difference came into conflict: European Economic Area membership and Icelandic politics. Representatives of the Netherlands and the UK argued that Iceland’s membership in the European Economic Area meant that Iceland was fully the same as other member nations, while those from Iceland successfully argued that its domestic and international economies were irreducibly different. The dispute thus hinged upon a debate over how differences are ordered within and between nations, including the number of permissible orders and the precise extent to which member nations are or should be made commensurable through supranational geopolitics.

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Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Department of Public Administration and Sociology (DPAS)

Bier, J. (2020). It’s a Small, Small, Small World: The Icesave Dispute and Global Orders of Difference. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 38(7-8), 1291–1307. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/131169