Many computer games (like Civilization and Endless Space), implement a "culture" or "influence" score that applies outward pressure on national borders. These scores are depicted as being raised by arts funding and buildings like museums and theatres. As a result, the arts appear to be moving borders: quite straightforwardly, if you build a museum your national borders will start moving outwards. Land will be (sometimes) be taken from enemies as if by conquest, and virgin territory will be marked as your on maps as you gain the rights to control entry and exit.

Has anything like this ever happened? If necessary, broaden the scope to indirect effects: has support for the arts ever lead to an expansion of borders?

  • You should add details for people who never played those games, or else the question is not understandable. – Bregalad May 24 '18 at 6:34
  • As surreal as it sounds, the situation I am describing really is one where arts funding expands borders. You bulid an opera house, and a few years later a few more hectacres fall under your control. – Display Name May 24 '18 at 6:46
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    Didn't happen with museums and theaters. But with churches and mosques. If museums could do that, a certain Austrian corporal would have had many museums and less divisions. – Jos May 24 '18 at 7:26
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    Arguably the French Revolution would have had a different course without the Marseillaise. But the clearest example is the Byzantine arguments over iconography and iconoclasm. Second example would be the conflict between Catholic and Protestant over idolatry. Yes, art & culture move borders. – Mark C. Wallace May 24 '18 at 10:01

Take Germany or Italy

Both were "latecomers" as modern nationstates, assembled from a patchwork of more-or-less-sovereign states sharing a common culture. This assembly process was driven not just by princes and kings and power politics but also by the citizens who wanted to form one nation.

The line in the Deutschlandlied, from the Meuse to the Neman, from the Adige to the (Fehmarn) Belt, was a call on democratic citizens to throw out autocrats and to unite. (It has been abused for other purposes, which is why only the 3rd stanza is the current German anthem.) After some political wrestling the Lesser German Solution emerged, with Austria opting to become a multicultural empire rather than a rival of Prussia within Germany.

Italy had to go through the same process, with similar problems to define the national boundaries.

It was never just culture which shifted borders, but culture clarified where the people wanted borders to be drawn.

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Those are game models, which shouldn't be taken too literal.

Culture represents all culture of the civilization, not just arts, but also lifestyle, architecture, literature etc. Every tile within borders is considered inhabitated in Civilization and culture determines to which nationality the inhabitants feel they belong. In that sense it represents the assimilation of a people into anothers cultures. Look towards the Romans, who employed strategy like this to keep conquered people in line. Or look towards assimilating a foreign culture via trade, eventually it becoming part of your own.

Influence on the hand is completely different. It represents the nations political clout and power and such is a very real tool in determining borders. Think here about the political maneuvers used to expand ones territory. E.g. the marriage of Isabella and Ferdinand, which created Spain out of Castille and Aragon. Hitlers actions before WW2, where he used his influence and power to conquer several territories without a fight.

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yes, culture is all you value and not just art, but he is asking about times when culture changed borders. Italy and Germany above are good examples. Music brings our people together.

One could argue that a common culture was a reason to form the Indian, Chinese, Japanese states too. Even if there were good political and military reasons, would a maharajah, a damyo or a chinese warlord accept any central government if the larger entity were not seen as common cultural ground, as a mother nation, even when the previously existing strong unified government was long gone?

In the indian case, among all local enmities and differences, only the muslim desire to a muslim state was strong enough to prevail and generate Pakistan. As religion is the most fundamental part of culture (if culture is what you value, then religion defines your values about the most fundamental aspects of life), it is culture at play.


Why did individuals cantons joined? They did not join all at the same time. Mutual defense is a reason, but the federative, autonomous, republican culture must have been important too. Would they join a feudal kingdom? heck, they even attracted and kept cantons with different languages and religions!

Texas, USA, America

Texas proclaims independence, and after a few years, join the US. It certainly helped that they were American colonists from the beginning, and some of them might already be aiming to USA statehood beforehand, but anyway: If USA somehow were changed culturally or politically during the few years of Texas independence, they could have tried to stay independent.

And if Porto Rico runs a plebiscite again and joins the US, does it count?

Latin America had urges of union with their cultural brothers too (see Bolivar, San Martin, the Union of Central America). But the distances and communication difficulties over the Andes and different seas, a decentralized history under viceroys, etc, all hampered their project.

Colonization as a mechanism

When I played that game I thought on these lines: my people emigrate to these backward neighboring regions and those primitives are so in awe that they don't even resist. But certainly IRL it is not so simple.

You may think of colonization of a neighboring region as a mechanism to implement "cultural annexation". Certainly, a culture that encourages this kind of emigration is helpful or even necessary, besides a neighboring region underpopulated, unable or unwilling to resist. In this case, russian expansion into siberia, overall USA expansion in the West, Brazilian expansion in south america are examples where the native population might be discouraged of resistance by the superior tech, numbers and culture of the invaders. Sometimes this expansion happened even with not much direct help or interest from central governments.

Present day Chinese emigration in the Far East Siberia (which some think will end up in a chinese siberia someday), is a (futuristic) example too.

Many muslims see the current emigration wave as cultural annexation too (they have even a specific word for emigrating to change the demography). The Europeans are considered too naive and decadent to realize what will happen when their countries have a muslim quasi-majority. In this case the difference is not superior tech but simply a culture that still have children and is proud of itself versus a culture with no children and not much will to preserve or even know itself.

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