This essay examines the image-schemas and metaphors that leaders and critics employ in international debates about the internet. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton delivered the first speech by a senior American official articulating a strategy for incorporating internet freedom into American foreign policy in 2010, but international leaders have been concerned with the implications of the internet since its inception. Situating Clinton’s speech in the history of internet governance, I employ security image-schemas first developed by Paul Chilton to demonstrate how policymakers employ the internet to reinforce realist foreign policy narratives. To support alternative conceptions of the internet, I propose a “space” image-schema drawing from the work of critical geographer Doreen Massey. While the internet is often depicted as a force for freedom, a more productive framework may be understanding its relationship with space.

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