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Geography as Space and Geography as Place: The Divide Between Political Science and Political Geography Continues



Steven Spiegel's article ‘Traditional Space vs. Cyberspace’ exemplifies the divide between political science and political geography. In trying to incorporate geographic factors into his consideration of post‐Cold War geopolitics, Spiegel equates his view with distance and less explicitly with territory. The attempt to position geography as central to international politics has failed once again because of the equation of spatial analysis with the field of geography. Ignorance and neglect of the place tradition, prominent in contemporary geography, is the most important factor in the continued failure of communication between Geography and International Relations.
Geography as space and geography as place:
The divide between political science and
political geography continues
John OLoughlin
Institute of Behavioral Science and
Department of Geography
University of Colorado
Campus Box 487
Boulder, CO. 80309-0487
Commenting on the paper by Professor Stephen Spiegel1 offers a chance to revisit the divide that continues
to separate geography from political science (and probably, from most of the other social sciences). It is not
a divide that is caused by hostility or distain for the practices and beliefs of the geographic profession by
other social scientists but one that has resulted from a narrow and anachronistic view of the discipline of
geography. The perception extends to international relations and geopolitics, the subjects of Spiegels paper.
Fundamentally, the divide is maintained by an import-export imbalance of information (well-identified by
Jean Laponce in 19802) that shows no signs of ebbing. While political geographers, read, absorb and use the
theories, methods and perspectives of political scientists, the reverse is not true (with some notable
exceptions) and the result is the kind of paper under discussion. Trying to incorporate geographic factors
into his consideration of post-Cold War international politics, Spiegels view of geography equates it with
distance and, less explicitly, with territory. Thus, the attempt to move geography from a marginal to a central
consideration in international politics has failed once again because of a belief that spatial analysis constitutes
the field of geography and accompanying ignorance of the place tradition in human geography. 3
At one level, Spiegels paper is another example of the kind of high geopoliticsthat has been
popularized by Zbigniew Brzezinski. Examining the central role of the United States in the international
system, high geopoliticsis often highly speculative, is dismissive of the populations that constitute the
states, is motivated by traditional military security concerns, and tends to look at the world through a zero-
sum lens, though exactly who are the opponents is less clear than in the Cold War years.4 Spiegel is less
focused than Brzezinski on the fortunes of the United States, seeing it as the epitome but not the only
representative of a type of post Cold War state called high-techwhere traditional security issues are being
shunted aside by considerations of global economic access, positioning in the international organizations that
govern global economic and financial flows, and dominance of the new technologies emanating from
research and development in these countries. Spiegels paper thus spans somewhat of a divide in
international relations, between those who hold that economic globalization will not change fundamentally
the power of states to control their borders and their role as power-containersand those who argue that
state power is ebbing fast as non-state actors, especially transnational corporations based in key international
centers, continue to gain control of the international political economy. Spiegel considers the present era of
international politics to be significantly more complex as a result of globalization but also because superpower
control of allies has ended. It is Spiegels so-called nationalisticstates (e.g. Iraq) and transitionalstates
(e.g. China and Russia) that continue to have the potential to disrupt the high-techcontrol of the world
system. As long as disputes in nationalistic and transitional states are local and internal, the high-techstates
can blithely ignore these second and third tiers; only when their territorial conflicts threaten to diffuse or
when internal ideological, ethnic or religious strife looks like jumping over national borders is the stability of
international politics in peril. None of these developments has happened in the post-Cold War decade, yet
the high-techcoalition has been involved in two major military campaigns, in the Persian Gulf and Balkan
regions. Though Spiegel discusses the possibility of conflict between the high-techstates and members of
the other tiers, he ignores competition within the high-techtier.
There is little to dispute in the Spiegel account of the new frame of international politics since he is
justly skeptical of the big three populist accounts of our future - the coming anarchyscenario of Robert
Kaplan (geographically confined to the nationalisticand transitionalstates), Friedmans hyper-
globalization scenario of universal homogenized free-market utopiain Lloyds phrasing, and the doomsday
scenario of civilizational clashes from Huntington.5 Unlike these prognosticators, Spiegel is suitably chastened
by the complexities of the post-Cold War world and by the uncertainties induced by rapid economic changes
in the high techand transitionalstates, coupled with the demands of nationalisticstates for a matching
of state boundaries to national claims. For him, the new instability is epitomized by the tension between
globalization and fragmentation, between cyberspace and traditional geographic space.Spiegels main
concern is whether geographyin the guise of distance with respect to the globalizing high techstates and
in the guise of territory to the nationalisticstates remains a viable element in the post-Cold War arena. He
concludes that, despite the significant degree of globalization since 1989, geography continues to be a
relevant international factor.At first blush, Spiegels conclusion is comforting since it allows political
geography a continued place in the academy. I will argue below that the conclusion is correct (one shared by
political geographers) but not for the reasons that Spiegel cites. His path to this conclusion is paved with a
questionable three-tier international structure, inconsistent formulations, and a dubious assumption about the
importance of distance-minimization in the world system.
Critique of the Spiegel formulation.
Whilst Spiegel is quick to assure us that the three tier structure of states in the international system is more a
conceptual devicethan literal descriptions of actual political entities, it nonetheless plays an important
role in his evaluation of contemporary IR and expectations for the future. Though any ad hoc classification
could be criticized from alternative theoretical stances, Spiegels seems more imprecise than most and is
undermined by the internal heterogeneity of states. In the transitionalstates especially but to some extent
in all countries, some regions are highly engaged in globalization whilst other regions are more nationalistic.
China and Russia provide two obvious examples of this dual-track regional phenomenon; the coastal cities-
western provinces contrast in China or the gap between Moscow/St.Petersburg and the rest of Russia,
especially the ethnic territories, surely challenge any simple country classification.
Though I accept that Spiegel is writing a high geopoliticspiece that does not progress to empirical
examination of the assertions, there are still some dubious claims about the nature of international politics
embedded in the article. The three category grouping, though useful as a heuristic device, should not be seen
as comprising three mutually-exclusive sets. There is ample evidence that high-tech United States is highly
nationalistic, perhaps not in the sense of territorial claims on its neighbors (these claims were fulfilled over
100 years ago) but certainly in the sense of geopolitical command of regions of strategic interest, many of
which are geographically far-removed from North America. In the post-Cold War decade, the U.S. has been
involved militarily in Bosnia, Kosovo/Yugoslavia, Iraq/Persian Gulf, Somalia, Taiwan, Colombia and
Panama. The dominant powerthat provides an overall cover of stability but is not all-controlling
according to Spiegel, maintains a global network of bases, allies, military funding, and economic interest. U.S.
administrations balance classic realist interests with a post-Vietnam aversion to the use of American combat
troops but rely on high-tech weaponry and ancillary local forces. The Powell Doctrine, announced at the
time of the 1991 Gulf War, evinces an avoidance of American casualties, a stress on technological advantage
and above all, an abhorrence of long-term involvement in regional conflicts. This position is strongly
supported by the American public and has acted as a brake on the ambitions of the Clinton Administration to
promote a more humanitarian foreign policy.6 The U.S. combination of high-techeconomy and global
military involvement belies Spiegels claim that his high-techtier has developed a post-nationalistic profile.
A second implicit assumption of the Spiegel account of the United Statesrole in contemporary
international politics is that the U.S. will remain the leader of an increasingly globalized world. In the words
of former Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, globalization is a given but American globalizationwould
be a mistake.As the foreign policy discussions in the recent Presidential campaign clarified (few as there
were since there exists a Washington consensus), there is bi-partisan agreement that the U.S., as the victor
of the Cold War, should continue to set the post-Cold War global agenda, including continued promotion of
hyper-globalization. Two developments threaten this confident perspective, according to Gorbachev. First,
there has been a heightening of inequalities, tension and hostility, with most of the last directed toward the
United Statessince 1991. Second, it is time for America's electorate to be told the blunt truth: that the
present situation of the United States, with a part of its population able to enjoy a life of extraordinary
comfort and privilege, is not tenable as long as an enormous portion of the world lives in abject poverty,
degradation and backwardness.7 The geopolitical position of the United States is closely wrapped up in the
diffusion of economic globalization and the formulization of trade, financial, investment and cultural links
that continue to place U.S. centers as the intersections of these bonds. Spiegel recognizes this linkage
between U.S. dominance and world-system development and expects it to continue. Though currently hard
to see whence a serious challenge to U.S. dominance might emanate, careful analysis of the reactions to
greater incorporation into the world economy in the disparate world regions would clearly disabuse Spiegel of
the notion that the contemporary trends are unstoppable and irreversible.
If Spiegel is using the relative rate of the penetration of globalization to structure his three-tier
arrangement of states, as seems to be the case, it seems more logical to re-structure the division by an index
of globalization, as Held et al. have done. Their categories of states (globalized, internationalized,
regionalized, nationalized and localized) are defensible on the basis of current economic linkages, but each
category is clearly also heterogeneous in terms of political and cultural characteristics.8 An underlying
hypothesis of the globalization school is that political change will follow from domestic economic
developments that result from greater incorporation into the world-economy. Some of the East Asian states,
like South Korea or Taiwan, are viewed as examples of countries that have democratized as a result of
economic growth and greater external linkages. A longer reach is an expectation that the states of the former
Soviet Union will follow a similar path. The evidence so far is that the former Communist bloc is splintering
in its post-Communist profiles between a westernizing central Europe, an unreformed Central Asia, and an
intervening zone of uncertainty that includes Russia.9 In Spiegels terms, examples of transitionaland
nationalisticstates can easily be found in the post-Communist world but countries such as the Czech
Republic and Hungary fit uneasily into this classifications after their incorporation into the Western economic
and political world is now assured.
Throughout the Spiegel article, the treatment of barriers is unsatisfactory. Barriers between the
countries of the three tiers will remain high. With respect to the movement of people, high-techstates will
maintain high entry requirements and quotas but remain open to economic flows while the nationalistic
states jealously guard their territory and reluctantly allow entry only to some goods and services from outside.
Transitionalstates are expected to fall somewhere between these extremes. Spiegel verges into the debates
about the effects of distance on interaction but he does not directly tackle the differential state responses to
globalization that often include the erection of barriers to the flows of people, goods, ideas and services.
Though the claims of the hyper-globalizationists like Friedman about the reconstitution of state control in an
increasingly globalized world have been vastly exaggerated, the time-space compression inherent in
globalization is undoubtedly assisted by the application of real time technologiesof communication and
surveillance, used by transnational corporations and state agencies at home and abroad.10 Spiegel appears to
accept a simple version of the argument, that time-reducing technologies are also overcoming the friction of
distance resulting in a more integrated world political-economic unit. What he overlooks is the complex and
variegated nature of the world-system and the differential impacts of rapid economic change in the worlds
regions. Rather than marking the end of geography, the highly-varied nature of the regional geography of
globalization marks a new beginning for the geographic profession.
Spiegels version of geography is not unusual in political science. The typical rendition of geography
equates the term to distance, as Spiegel does, but there other versions of geography from political scientists
that are equally narrow in focus. Ian Lustig wants political geographers to concentrate on issues of territory,
especially on the definition, changes and meanings of boundaries, while Dan Elazar wanted geographers to
give up traditional foci on space and territoriality and move to a concentration on the changing meaning of
space.11 Another political scientist, Gary King, believes that visualization and cartographic display of the
same political phenomena by geographers offers valuable help to political scientists trying to understand these
phenomena in other words, geography as technique.12 What King wants is a discipline of geography that is
in tune with the proclivities of most political scientists, which as Alex Murphy rightly points out, is still
dominated by positivist modes of explanation.13 Geographers, instead, offer a plethora of perspectives and
Lustigs frustration in trying to identify the core of political geography while seeing only empirical mappings
of political phenomena is certainly understandable. But as Peter Taylor notes, the advantage of a discipline
without a dominant core is that it is also a discipline without peripheries.14 I turn now to the place
perspective that has made a dramatic revival in the discipline and which anticipates further attention in a
globalized world.
Diversity amid Globalization.
The title of a new, popular introductory world regional geography text, Diversity amid Globalization
summarizes well the dominant perspective of the geographical profession on the contemporary global
developments.15 The text surveys the major globalization trends of economic, technological, political and
cultural linkages and proceeds to an examination of the relative impacts of these trends in each of the major
world regions. The text is clearly trying to avoid both the singularity trap(each region is unique) and the
generalization trap(globalization has the same effects everywhere).16 Like John Agnews assertion that
the end of the Cold War has been a boon to the field of political geography17, I will claim that
simultaneously, globalization has been reworking the nature of inter-state relations, the character of world and
local regions, and indeed the nature of places. Blinded by an equation of geography and distance, political
scientists and international relations specialists have continued to ignore the dramatic developments of the
past decade.
How have place and space changed since the end of the Cold War? The short answer must be that
space has continued to decline in significance after 1989, a process that was well underway by the beginning
of the Cold War as a result of time-space compression technologies, while place has regained some of the
importance that it supposedly lost between 1947 and 1989. During the Cold War, a fixation on the research
topics of mutual nuclear destruction and direct relations between the superpowers tended to remove both
space and place from international relations (IR) discussions. With respect to space, the key issues revolved
around defense in depth (buffer zones), zones of stable peace, and geostrategic studies. The aim was to
overcome the tyranny of distance from one side (offensive use of weapons) and to enforce it on the other
(defensive use of allied and neutral territories). The mathematical modeling so pervasive during the Cold
War needed a simple conception of distance and space since other equation elements (comparative military
strengths, alliance behavior and structures, tit-for-tat games, leadership styles, crisis conditions, etc) were so
complicated. Consequently, to a large extent, geography was erased to become no more than Euclidean
distance on the global surface or following Spykmans famous aphorism, geography was perceived as
unchanging and ever-present.18 For the IR modelers, the world had effectively become a billiard-table, an
isotropic geopolitical plain, but at a cost. As Colin Gray writes, So habituated are we (strategic analysts) to
affirmations of the importance of geography for strategy, and so unarguable are those claims, that the theory
explaining why and how geography really counts is, in effect, missing in action.19
During the Cold War, there was a political geography in the worlds regions. While the U.S. and the
Soviet Union engaged in a nuclear standoff, each was actively encouraging and assisting its allies in places as
geographically disparate as Central America/Caribbean, Southern Africa, Middle East, South-east Asia,
Northeast Asia and Central Europe. The particular circumstances of the superpower engagement in the local
affairs of the newly-independent states after the 1960s produced complex political geographies that could
only be understood by an examination of the colonial legacy, inter-ethnic relations, resource distributions, and
alliance structures.20 Obviously, not all political scientists were unaware of these regional developments since
comparativists examined in detail the developments in local political life as a result of superpower
intervention. Since 1989, with the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from most areas beyond Eurasia and the
scaling back of U.S. and other Western armed forces and assistance, the Third World regions have seen
varied outcomes. In some places, such as West Africa and Central Africa, civil wars have proliferated despite
lackluster attempts by the United Nations to bring peacekeeping to these areas whereas in other regions, such
as the Persian Gulf, external superpower involvement continues. In many ways, the regions of the Third
World have become more dissimilar in the past decade, not only as a result of the end of the superpower
activities but also, as a result of their relative level of globalization. The end-result is a one world, millions of
placesmosaic for which it is hard to make many generalizations. This conclusion does not imply a fall into
the trap of singularity but it does suggest a place complexity that is hardly amenable to simple considerations
of distance, territory and boundary.
Finding a Common Ground for Political Geographers and Political Scientists.
Political geographers like to speak about context and debate the influence of contextual elements on the
political behavior of individuals. At the root of the debates in geography that have involved political
scientists lies a disagreement about the significance and size of contextual influences. The extremist position
is held by Gary King (political geographers should not be so concerned with demonstrating that context
mattersand the goal of political geographers should be to try as hard as possible to make context not
count- his italics) while geographers have offered different conceptions of context that involve elements of
historical memory, geo-sociological influences, macroeconomic-microsocial interactions in a local setting, or
an integrated model.21 What is common to these formulations is the emphasis on places, not spaces.
The distinction between place and space is a crucial one for geographers, not only because place
tends to the singular (in a sense, every place is unique) and space to the general (since places are erased by a
pure spatial focus), but also because the two terms evoke different feelings and emphases. Space is associated
with abstractness, quantitative modeling (the spatial approach), freedom, movement, formality and
impersonal location, while place is associated with familiarity, security, home, intimacy, historical tradition,
social-cultural relations, context, and geo-sociological effects.22 In political geography, territorial control in
the form of gang turf, guerrilla stronghold, home, or the most discussed expression of place, the national
homeland, has been the subject of a great deal of study and a renewed emphasis on the role and meaning of
borders of territories can be identified since the end of the Cold War.23 Taylor concludes with an argument
that political geography should focus on place-space tensions. His geo-historical review of some key
developments in political geography expects a greater power (military superpower at the global scale or
expanding state power locally) to impose spatial controls on places (other states or localities, respectively).
Thus, nation-state building that involves territorial control can be interpreted as the imposition of space on
places. Taylor sees spaces as the outcome of top-down processes whilst places can be the sites of bottom-up
The framework proposed by Taylor, the tension between spatial control from the top and place
opposition from the bottom, can be easily meshed with the Diversity amid Globalizationargument
introduced earlier. Globalization, promoted strongly by the economic elites of the core countries and eased
by the hegemony of international organizations like the WTO (World Trade Organization), can be seen as a
space controlling enterprise as it works to eliminate trade barriers, national preferences, tariff regimes, cultural
choices, and ideological opposition to the dominant neo-liberal economic order. The mistake that Thomas
Friedman and others have made is to assert that the world-system is irreversibly on its way to becoming a
common global space. The debates revolving around the WTO meetings and agendas are centrally
concerned about the global space-local places tensions, especially on the extent to which local places will
accept, conform, or reject the WTO agenda. While it may be true that the promoters of globalization have
been in the ascendance for the past decade, the opposition, though fragmented along national, class,
ideological and issue divides, has not evaporated. Indeed, in some of Spiegels transitional states such as
Russia, the key decision of whether the globalizationist or oppositionist camp will gain control of the state
apparatus is not yet decided. Elsewhere, local groups, frequently organized around environmental,
agricultural, national, or cultural issues, are becoming organized and establishing international links with
groups who share the same aim of slowing or changing the globalization agenda, though they frequently
differ in strategy and ideology. At the national scale, the nation-state project continues in most countries
accompanied by significant ethno-territorial opposition, as in post-Soviet Russia. The failure of the Soviet
project can be seen as a vindication of the strength of the place-based movements to a classic space-imposing
political-economic model. This space-place tension is producing a diversity amid globalizationthat is
dramatically altered from region to region ands offers a consensual base for research by political geographers.
It restores regionto its central position in geographic research and blends consideration of macro- and
micro-level processes.24 Regions are not unchanging nor unconnected nor structured socially in the same
way everywhere nor invariant in their effects on their populations. Instead, regions are constantly engaged in
the processes of self-reproduction, context-definition, autonomy-defining, resource-structuring, and conflict-
mediating, according to Johnstons framing of the regional project. Almost all geographers would agree with
him that we do not need regional geography, but we do need regions in geography.25
I have puzzled for years, as I am sure have others, about the lack of attention that geographic work receives
in the other social sciences. I have come to the conclusion that for political science, the answer lies in this
disciplines search for order and regularity in the political realms. It is thus easy to understand why the spatial
perspective of geographers seemingly offers a common ground with political science and why the messiness
of a world of regions that is constantly in the process of being reshaped and redefined by internal and
external forces lacks appeal to a law-seeking discipline. Some political scientists, like Starr and his co-authors,
have tried to promote a middle-position, arguing that a search for domain-specific lawsshould characterize
the agenda of their discipline.26 Political science, like geography, contains many perspectives and approaches
but unlike geography, the rational choice perspective is strongest. It is the comparativists that continue to
oppose the seemingly-inexorable trend towards more generalization and the application of models borrowed
from economics to political subjects.
Stephen Spiegel, in his conclusion, divides the world into great powers concerned with trade,
consumer benefits, and scientific advancements and a lower order of international politics (former colonies)
where major tensions, hostilities and conflicts now occur and in a Kaplanesque extension, worries about
world epitomized by an inherent tension between globalization and fragmentation, cooperation and conflict,
novelty and tradition. While this is certainly a worry, questions in academic research concern all places, not
just the zones of conflict and tension, since the invariant space of globalization that Spiegel sees in the high-
techstates does not exist in reality. Many places in the zone of globalization have not shared the benefits
that Spiegel attributes to their societies. Rather than the simple classification of homogenous states that
Spiegel uses to order his world-view, a more complex one that stresses diversity of experiences, localities of
action, regions of change, and places of tension is better suited to the geographic realities of the
contemporary world.
1 Steven L. Spiegel Traditional space v. cyberspace: The changing role of geography in current international
politics.Geopolitics (this issue).
2 Jean A. Laponce Political science: An import-export analysis of journals and footnotes.Political Studies 28
(1980), 410-19.
3 I should clarify my own position. While I am critical of the political scientistsemphasis on the spatial
analytical tradition in geography, most of my own research falls squarely in this tradition but I recognize the
limitations of its extremist wing.
4 See, for example, Zbigniew Brzezinski The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives.
New York: Basic Books, 1997.
5 The books are Robert Kaplan The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post-Cold War World. New York:
Random House, 2000; Thomas L. Friedman The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York: Farrar, Straus and
Giroux, 1999 and Samuel P. Huntington The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1996. The quote is by Christopher Lloyd Globalization: Beyond the ultra-modernist
narrative to a critical realist perspective on geopolitics in the cyber age.International Journal of Urban and
Regional Research 24 (2000), 258.
6 See the surveys in John OLoughlin Ordering the Crush Zone: Geopolitical games in post-Cold War
Eastern Europe.Geopolitics 4 (2000), 34-56. The Powell Doctrinewas enunciated by General Colin
Powell, the National Security Advisor to President George Bush (1989-1993) at the time of the Gulf War.
Powell is now nominated by Bushs son, George W. Bush, to be the Secretary of State in the new
7 Mikhail Gorbachev "Mr. Bush, the world doesn't want to be American" International Herald Tribune
December 30-31, 2000, A7.
8 See D. Held, A. McGrew, D. Goldblatt and J. Perraton, eds. Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and
Culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999, p. 16.
9 See, for example, Charles King Post-Communism: Transition, comparison and the end of Eastern
EuropeWorld Politics 53 (2000), 143-72 and Jeffrey S. Kopstein and David A. Reilly Geographic diffusion
and the transformation of the postcommunist world.World Politics 53 (2000) 1-37.
10 The concern is elaborated in detail in Paul Virilio, Open Sky. London: Verso.
11 Ian S. Lustig Geography and political science.Political Geography 18 (1999), 901-904 and Dan Elazar
Political science, geography and the spatial dimension of politics.Political Geography 18 (1999), 875-886.
12 Gary King Why context should not count.Political Geography 15 (1996), 159-164. The spatial-analytical
perspective of geography is also clearly visible in recent papers by Mike Ward and his students. See, for
example, Kristian S. Gleditsch and Michael D. Ward War and Peace in Time and Space: The Role of
Democratization.International Studies Quarterly 44 (2000), 1-29, Kopstein and Reilley, note 4, and Corey L.
Lofdahl National Expansion and Natural Degradation: An Environmental Extension of Lateral Pressure Theory.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.
13 Alexander B. Murphy Living together separately: Thoughts on the relationship between political science
and political geography.Political Geography 18 (1999), 887-894.
14 See Peter J. Taylor Places, spaces, and Macys Place-space tensions in the political geography of
modernities. Progress In Human Geography 23 (1999), 7-26.
15 The books full bibliographic information is Les Rowntree, Martin Lewis, Marie Price and William
Wyckoff Diversity amid Globalization: World Regions, Environment, Development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice
Hall, 2000.
16 The terms are from R.J. Johnston, A Question of Place: Exploring the Practice of Human Geography. Oxford:
Basil Blackwell, 1991.
17 John A. Agnew Global political geographies beyond geopolitics.International Studies Review 2 (2000), p.
18 I leveled this criticism before at the IR literature of the latter years of the Cold War. See John OLoughlin
Is there a geography of international relations?Political Geography Quarterly 7 (1988), 85-91. The quote
(Geography is the most fundamentally conditioning factor in the formulation of national policy because it is
the most permanent) is from Nicholas J. Spykman, Geography and foreign policy IAmerican Political Science
Review 32 (1938), p. 29.
19 Colin S. Gray Inescapable Colin S. Gray and Geoffrey Sloan (eds) Geopolitics: Geography and
Strategy. London: Frank Cass, 1999, p. 162. All of the essays in this volume affirm the importance of
geography to strategy but only a couple of chapters examine the definition of geography.
20 See John OLoughlin World power competition and local conflicts in the Third World.In R.J. Johnston
and P.J. Taylor (eds) A World in Crisis: Geographical Perspectives. 2nd ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989, 289-332.
21 See King, footnote 11, pages 159 and 160. For the historical memory emphasis, see Allen Pred Place as
historically-contingent process.Annals, Association of American Geographers 74 (1984), 279-97; for the geo-
sociological approach, see John A. Agnew Mapping politics: How context counts in electoral geography.
Political Geography 15 (1996), 129-46; for the economic processes-social outcomes approach, see Allen J. Scott
Regions and the World Economy: The Coming Shape of Global Production, Competition, and Political Order. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1998, Taylor, footnote 13 above, and Doreen Massey, Spatial Divisions of Labour.
London: Macmillan, 1984; and for the integrated approach, see Johnston, footnote 15 above.
22 Many of these associations are culled by Taylor, footnote 13 above, from the book by Yi-fu Tuan, Space and
Place. London: Arnold, 1977.
23 See the literature reviews in Vladimir Kolossov and John OLoughlin, New borders for new orders:
Territorialities at the fin-de-siécle.Geojournal, 44 (1998), 259-273, and David Newman and Anssi Paasi
Fences and neighbours in the postmodern world: Boundary narratives in political geography.Progress in
Human Geography 22 (1998), 186-207.
24 See John Agnew, From the political economy of regions to regional political economy.Progress in Human
Geography 24 (2000), 101-110.
25 Johnston, footnote 15 above, p. 67.
26 See Benjamin A. Most and Harvey Starr Inquiry, Logic and International Politics. Columbia, SC: University of
South Carolina Press, 1989 and Randolph M. Siverson and Harvey Starr The Diffusion of War: A Study of
Opportunity and Willingness. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1991. I find Starrs position to be
... This is consistent with geographers' emphasis that proximity is not only about "space" and Euclidean distance but also about "place," and our focus is on the latter. As noted by O'Loughlin (2000), "[s]pace is associated with abstractness, quantitative modeling (the spatial approach), freedom, movement, formality and impersonal location; while place is associated with familiarity, security, home, intimacy, historical tradition, social-cultural relations, context, and geo-sociological effects" (see also O'Loughlin 2016). Thus, studying proximity in foreign policy can go beyond physical distance and can concern attitudes as well (e.g. ...
... We operationalize proximity to Russia in terms of geopolitical and cultural closeness, emphasizing that, conceptually, proximity, or distance, is about place, not just space and includes the study of attitudes (O'Loughlin 2000(O'Loughlin , 2016. Thus, to assess geopolitical proximity, we use two survey questions that get at respondents' sense of how closely they see themselves oriented towards Russia geopolitically. ...
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Honing in on how citizens in the former Soviet Union find themselves in an information competition over their own past, this paper explores whether and why ordinary people’s perceptions of historical events and figures in their country’s past are in line with a Russian-promoted narrative that highlights World War II – known as the “Great Patriotic War” in Russia and some former Soviet states – as a glorious Soviet victory and Stalin as a great leader. We draw on comparative survey data across six states and one de facto state in 2019–2020 to examine whether geopolitical or cultural proximity to Russia is associated with a more favourable view on a Russian-promoted narrative about the past. We find that closer geopolitical proximity to Russia is associated with perceiving the past in line with the Russian-promoted narrative, though the findings are less consistent when it comes to measures for closer cultural proximity.
... 34 To analyze place, context becomes very important, as it contains elements of historical memory, geo-sociological influences and macroeconomic-microsocial interactions. 35 In short, this book uses theoretical arguments from political geography to trace the origins of Laos' identity as a nation vis-à-vis its physical location, geographical setting and historical interactions with neighbors and external powers near and far -what we call the "idea of Laos." This idea then shapes how it emerges as a modern nation and how it continues to interact with the region and the world. ...
... I consider the possibility that the enemy threat from across the master cleavage to the survival of on-side groups may vary according to the progress of the war. 57 In theorizing the effects of variation in the enemy threat to survival across locations and over time, I follow geographers' calls to attend to space by considering the character of a locale and to avoid conflating the nature of space with measures of distance (O'Loughlin, 2000). ...
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On-side fighting – outright violence between armed groups aligned on the same side of a civil war’s master cleavage – represents a devastating breakdown in cooperation. Its humanitarian consequences are also grave. But it has been under-recognized empirically and therefore under-theorized by scholars to date. This article remedies the omission. Existing research can be extrapolated to produce candidate explanations, but these overlook spatial and temporal variation in on-side fighting within a war. I provide a theory that accounts for this ebb and flow. On-side fighting hinges on belligerents’ trade-offs between short-term survival and long-term political objectives. Enemy threats to survival underpin on-side cooperation; in their absence, belligerents can pursue political gains against on-side competitors. I evaluate this threat-absence theory using evidence from the ongoing Syrian Civil War’s first years. Fine-grained fatalities data capture fluctuating enemy threats to on-side groups’ survival and situate on-side fighting and its absence. Findings support threat-absence theory and contribute to research on warfighting and political competition in civil wars and to the study of coalition dynamics in other settings, including elections and legislatures.
... Thirdly, it borrows from the literature on political geography in order to build an interdisciplinary perspective on EU geopolitical imaginations and the geographical dimensions of the EU's border expansion and crisis management. In this context, we aim to open a dialogue with political geographers whose valuable insights in this field are often overlooked by political scientists (Agnew 2013;Murphy et al. 2004;O'Loughlin 2000;Clark and Jones 2011). Thus, the central aim of this collection is to explore how the hybrid setup and the unique set of institutional, ideational and policy attributes of the EU affect processes of statebuilding in its near abroad. ...
Research Proposal
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شهد المجال السيبراني في المنطقة العربية دوراً كبيراً في إحداث عدد من المتغيرات ذات الطبيعة السياسية والأمنية وبخاصة بعد عام 2011 ، وهو ما كان له تأثيرات كبري على المجتمع وعلى علاقته بالدولة بل بالتأثير المباشر على "الدولة العربية "، بإفشالها وانهيار مؤسسات الدولة وبخاصة في تلك الدول التي تشهد تراجع في الحداثة والتنمية مثل حالة اليمن وليبيا ، بينما اخذت للعب دوراً سياسياً في دول اخري مثل حالة مصر وتونس ،والتي تتميز بتطور مرتكزات الدولة والطبيعة المدنية لشعوبها ، وبينما جمعت استخدامات "المجال السيبراني "بين الدور السياسي والعسكري في الحالة السورية ،وتعرضت المنطقة عبر المجال السيبراني إلى حروب نفسية استهدفت التأثير على الكتلة الحرجة من الشباب عبر الشبكات الاجتماعية سواء من قبل فرقاء على أساس الاختلاف السياسي أو الديني أو المذهبي ، ومن جهة اخري مارست قوى خارجية التدخل " سيبرانياً " للتأثير على الامن والاستقرار ،و تغذية النزاعات الطائفية ، لذلك أهتمت هذه الدراسة بدراسة الأمن السيبراني وعلاقته بالجغرافية السياسية ، وما هو موقع ليبيا في الأمن السيبراني وما هي المخاطر التي تعرضت لها ليبيا وما هي المخاطر المستقبلية في حال عدم حماية مجالها الجيوسبراني .
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O presente artigo traz uma contribuição para o campo de pesquisa de geografia e segurança internacional através de um diálogo interdisciplinar com as Relações Internacionais e os Estudos de Estratégia, Segurança e Defesa. Para exemplificar as possibilidades de uma abordagem geográfica da segurança, foram discutidos a relação entre segurança, região e fronteiras a partir de uma revisão bibliográfica atualizada. Palavras-chave: geografia; segurança; geopolítica; região; fronteiras. ABSTRACT This paper brings a contribution to the research field of geography and international security through an interdisciplinary dialogue with the International Relations and Strategic Studies/ Security and Defense Studies. To illustrate the possibilities of a geographical approach to security, were discussed the relationship between security, region and border from an updated literature review. Keywords: geography; security; geopolitics; region; borders. RÉSUMÉ Le suivant article apporte une contribution dans le domaine de la géographie et de la sécurité internationale par le biais d'un dialogue interdisciplinaire avec les relations internationales et des études de stratégie, de la sécurité et de la défense. Pour illustrer les possibilités d'une approche géographique de la sécurité, ont été examinés les relations entre sécurité, région et frontières avec la littérature scientifique mise à jour. Mots-clés: géographie; de la sécurité; géopolitique; région; frontières. DOI:10.5654/actageo2014.0004.0002
Geopolitics is 25 years old. In this Forum former editors reflect on the journey the journal has taken in those 25 years and the wider discipline (or disciplines) in which the journal sits. Alongside a recounting of how the journal came into existence and its name change to just ‘Geopolitics’, the editors reflect on the resurgence and increasingly interdisciplinary nature of geopolitics as a field of study which the journal played a role in and all meticulously chronicled in its pages (or bytes); the meanings and importance of the “geo” in geopolitics; the dynamics and politics of international publishing, the academic publishing industry, metrics, citation and the move online; as well as the continued Anglophone nature of political geography within a supposedly internationalising academy. This is coupled with suggestions for future avenues of research, including a plea to consider physical geography more concretely.
Three research perspectives in the fields of international relations and geopolitics are reviewed first for their potential theoretical insights into international conflicts among major powers. The major theme, the hegemonic decline of the US in the late 20th century and the current efforts by the Reagan administration to reverse it, is developed from one of the three theoretical perspectives. This theory is then applied to three geopolitical struggles: the conflict in the Horn, now involving both superpowers, and the particular threat to Soviet interests in Afghanistan, and American interests in the Central American isthmus by ingidenous popular movements of liberation. Some conclusions on superpower conflict in the context of a rapidly changing global arrangement of political and economic power and possible geopolitical analyses are made.-from Author
Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the 1999 Conference was the plenary session in which Professors David Held and Mahdi Elmandjra came together to discuss the theme of ‘“Globalization”: Democracy and Diversity’. The Conference also witnessed the launch of Global Transformations (Polity Press, 1999), at which David Held was joined by two of his three coauthors, Professor Anthony McGrew and Dr Jonathan Perraton. Global Transformations is the product of almost a decade’s work by a research team (based at the Open University and supported by the ESRC) who have produced what James. N. Rosenau has called ‘the definitive work on globalization’. It is a study which not only synthesises an extraordinary amount of information from research on globalization in a range of social science disciplines, but also makes its own distinctive contribution to our understanding of the complex range of forces which are reshaping the world order. We are delighted to be able to reproduce here an ‘executive summary’ of Global Transformations that summarises the major findings of this 500-page survey in just six thousand words.
Addresses one of human geography's central problems, the lack of an agreed agenda or methodology, by arguing for a refocus on place. The author outlines a methodological framework for understanding the interactions of individual and collective perpections and experiences of place. The concept is illustrated by three case studies of the north and south of the UK and the US, showing how the experience of place in the past and in the present manifests itself through culture and territoriality in both consensual and conflicting ways. The study represents a contribution to wider discussions about the nature and practice of human geography rather than a summation of what the discipline is, could, or should be. -after Author