The term 'geopolitics' came into use at the end of the nineteenth century. Thinking globally was then formally connected by geopolitical reason to acting globally, but the actual practices of geopolitics began much earlier, when Europeans first encountered the rest of the world.
Geopolitics identifies and scrutinizes the central features of geopolitics from the sixteenth century to the present, paying close attention to its persisting conceptual underpinnings, novel turns and shifting impacts. The book focuses on four key concepts of the modern geographical imagination: visualizing the world as a whole; the definition of geographical areas as advanced or primitive; the notion of the state being the highest form of political organization; and the pursuit of primacy by competing states. The second edition is thoroughly revised to take into account recent world events and what they augur for the future of the modern geopolitical imagination, including the possibility that understanding of the geography of world politics-and a new world politics-can be rebuilt on alternative grounds.
Exemplified by topical issues such as the US 'war on terrorism', the rise of China as a Great Power, the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, US President G. W. Bush's identification of a global 'axis of evil', and the re-emergence of Central Europe as a critical geopolitical region, the book shows how questions of the organization of power combine with those of geographical definition and highlights the crucial geopolitical certainties from as recently as fifteen years ago which have now either disappeared or are in question. Geopolitics provides an invaluable introduction to current critical debates over geopolitics and world politics.
John Agnew is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles.