An Introduction to Political Geography: Space, Place and Politics

An Introduction to Political Geography: Space, Place and Politics

An Introduction to Political Geography: Space, Place and Politics

An Introduction to Political Geography: Space, Place and Politics

Synopsis

Questions of the interaction between politics and geography permeate much of contemporary life. Providing a broad-based introduction to contemporary political geography, this excellent book examines the inter-relationship between politics and geography. Outlining the full breadth of contemporary political geography, and pushing back the boundaries of conventional understandings, authors Jones, Jones and Woods cover a rich and diverse range of topics. They explore:- how power interacts with space- how place influences political identities- how policy creates and remoulds territory.This book addresses not only traditional concerns such as state formation, geopolitics, electoral geography and nationalism, but also newer themes at the cutting-edge of political geography research, including the geographies of regulation and governance, policy formulation and delivery, the politics of place consumption, landscapes of power, identity politics and geographies of resistance.Both an essential text for political geographers and a valuable resource for those studying related fields, this comprehensive text combines discussions of cutting-edge conceptual debates with international case-studies, clarifying illustrations and explanatory boxes.

Excerpt

It is the night of Monday 25 September 2000, in the closing week of the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. In front of a record crowd the Australian athlete Cathy Freeman sprints clear to win gold in the women's 400 metre final. It is Australia's first Olympic gold medal in athletics since 1988, and the hundredth medal won by an Australian since the start of the modern Olympics in 1896. Momentarily exhausted, Freeman sits cross-legged on the track, hands over her eyes and mouth. Then, collecting a flag from the trackside, she sets off on a barefoot lap of honour, draped in her dual-sided flag - on one face the 'southern cross' standard of Australia, on the other the red, black and gold Aboriginal flag.

Cathy Freeman's moment of Olympic history is saturated with political geography. Most explicitly, there is the demonstration of Australian patriotism, reflecting the way in which sports events often provide a focal point for the articulation of national identity. Yet, with Freeman, a black Aboriginal woman and Aboriginal rights campaigner, the event assumed a deeper, more complex, symbolism. Freeman had been reprimanded on a previous occasion when she had celebrated with the Aboriginal flag. This time, however, there were no objections as she waved her dual Australian and Aboriginal ensign. In doing so Freeman served not just to reaffirm Australian national identity but contributed to its reinvention, turning the Olympic stadium into the stage for a seminal performance in the politics of race and identity in Australia.

Freeman's celebrations refocused attention on the brutal oppression of the Aboriginal people during the British colonisation of 'Australia' as part of an imperial geopolitical strategy. Moreover, the subjugation of the Aboriginal people depended on the application of political geographic knowledge about the exercise of power through the control of space. Colonial authorities imposed new administrative territories without regard for any existing geographical understandings of the land, obliterated Aboriginal place names and tribal homelands, and exiled Aboriginal communities to spatially controlled 'reservations'.

Freeman was not the first to use the Olympic Games to make a political statement. The tradition includes the 'black power' salutes given by African-American athletes at the 1968 games in Mexico City, and the boycotts of the Moscow and Los Angeles games as part of geopolitical posturing in the 1980s. Today the very process of bidding to host the Olympics is a geopolitical exercise, with competitors lobbying to build alliances of voting nations with negotiations that often spill over into issues of international diplomacy.

For the host city the prize is a symbolic step towards recognition as a 'global city'. The price, however, is a reworking of the city's own internal political geography. At Sydney, as at all the games, the stadium, athletes' village and the associated infrastructure of the event formed a 'landscape of power' which symbolised the powerfulness of the coalition of politicians, business leaders and sports administrators that had brought the games to Sydney, and the powerlessness of those who found themselves displaced by the development. The preparations for the games revealed much about the balance of power in contemporary urban politics as networks of key actors were assembled, funds diverted from health and education programmes, and new

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