Geopolitical Traditions: A Century of Geopolitical Thought

Geopolitical Traditions: A Century of Geopolitical Thought

Geopolitical Traditions: A Century of Geopolitical Thought

Geopolitical Traditions: A Century of Geopolitical Thought

Synopsis

The text uses human and political geography, politics, international relations and sociology to focus on how geopolitics has been created, negotiated and contested within a variety of contexts.

Excerpt

Klaus Dodds and David Atkinson

Geopolitics has provoked personal passion and intellectual outbursts ever since the emergence of the term in the 1890s. From the earliest expressions of geopolitics at the start of this century, the individuals involved such as Rudolf Kjellén, Halford Mackinder, Karl Haushofer and Isaiah Bowman constantly sought to influence national and international politics with their theories about the contemporary world. In the mid-twentieth century, when the late American geographer Richard Hartshorne exclaimed in 1954 that geopolitics was ‘an intellectual poison’, he confirmed the widespread opinion that geopolitical reasoning was synonymous with Nazi spatial expansionism, and that the theories and approaches gathered under the label ‘geopolitics’ were little more than a bogus ‘pseudo-science’ whose political contamination brought shame upon academic geography (Hartshorne 1954). Moreover, such opinions proved to be remarkably resilient. Forty years later, the preliminary meeting of the International Geographical Union Commission on the World Political Map was jeopardized when the Soviet delegation protested against a proposal to include ‘geopolitics’ in the title of the new organization (Vitkovskiy 1981). Once more, geopolitics was condemned for its associations with totalitarianism and political extremism. Clearly, within some quarters of academic geography, the geopolitical was unacceptable.

Yet despite the frequent condemnation of the term, geographers in Europe and North America never altogether abandoned the intellectual terrain demarcated by geopolitics. As Leslie Hepple noted in his examination of Anglo-American geopolitics from 1945 onwards, some geographers continued to undertake geopolitical investigations under the guise of different studies, while others displayed considerable intellectual courage by refusing to abandon ‘geopolitics’ from their vocabularies (Hepple 1986). By contrast, during the 1970s, beyond the sensitivities of the academy, the ‘security intellectuals’ and foreign policy advisors of the United States enthusiastically rehabilitated the term. Ironically though, their understanding of geopolitical ideas was probably prompted by their own longstanding use of geopolitical concepts such as ‘Heartland’ and ‘Rimland’ to sustain . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.