Academic journal article African Studies Quarterly

Soren Scholvin. 2014. the Geopolitics of Regional Power: Geography, Economics and Politics in Southern Africa

Academic journal article African Studies Quarterly

Soren Scholvin. 2014. the Geopolitics of Regional Power: Geography, Economics and Politics in Southern Africa

Article excerpt

Soren Scholvin. 2014. The Geopolitics of Regional Power: Geography, Economics and Politics in Southern Africa. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate. 234 pp.

This book attempts to demonstrate the importance of geographical perspectives in the analyses of emerging powers and to revitalize realist approaches in political geography. The author begins by pointing out that the geographical criterion as it is included in the definition of regional power highlights that geopolitics research is grounded in a misinterpretation of geography and regioness. In order to advance a geographical perspective on regional powers, the author indicates the importance of understanding how manmade and natural geographical factors existing in geographical space influence the economic and political relations of regional powers. The author indicates that in the contemporary period constructivism predominates in Political Geography but, however, argues that material structures in geographical space cannot be examined from a constructivist perspective; hence the need for a materialist perspective based on scientific realism: classical geopolitics, specifically realist geopolitics. The dimensions of classical geopolitics are spatial, functional, and longitudinal, thereby making it a suitable approach for explaining long-term patterns in international relations. The author acknowledges that not everything can be explained by geography, but geographical factors can be appropriate intervening variables explain many social phenomena that occur.

The choice of realist geopolitics is highly topical given that several contemporary approaches and theories of geopolitics lack clearly defined spheres of influence and disregard of geographical factors. The author formulates three hypotheses based on the relationship between geographical factors and policy options of regional powers. The geographical factors include location and geography, manmade material structures, and the sphere of influence of regional powers. The author tests these hypotheses in the context of South Africa as a regional power, justifying the use of the Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and Process Tracing methods of research.

The author examines the strengths and weaknesses of several approaches and theories that can be successfully used as frameworks to analyze geopolitics. The author's choice of realist geopolitics is successfully operationalized and applied empirically to analyze the problem of the geopolitics of regional power in Southern Africa using manmade and natural geographical factors. By doing so successfully, the book demonstrates evidence of original work and significantly contributes to the knowledge and insight into the subject of the regional powers and geopolitics in developing regions. …

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