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Leonhardt van Efferink
Leonhardt van Efferink is a PhD student at Royal Holloway, University of London. For more information about his PhD, please check: Leonhardt van Efferink: Geopolitical scripts and the (de)legitimisation of ISAF He holds Master’s degrees in Geopolitics, Territory and Security (King’s College London) and Financial Economics (Erasmus University Rotterdam). In this article, I will briefly interpret ten definitions of geopolitics from respected sources, looking for similarities and differences between the discussed definitions. Those longing for "the only right definition" of geopolitics will be disappointed. The deeper I get involved in Geopolitics, the harder I find it to give an appropriate definition. On the one hand, popular media love to use the word without defining it. A French geopolitical encyclopedia (Cordellier, 2005) observed that "La fréquence de [l'usage public du terme géopolitique] est souvent proportionelle à l'absence de précision de sa définition." On the other hand, academic literature provides (too) many definitions of geopolitics, reflecting a broad and never ending intellectual debate. To those looking for an academic publication about the many faces of geopolitics, I highly recommend "Geopolitics in the nineties: one flag, many meanings" by Virginie Mamadouh.
Cohen (2003) notes that intellectuals such as Aristoteles, Montesquieu, Kant, Hegel and Humboldt already had an understanding of Geopolitics. Nonetheless, Geopolitics as a concept emerged much later (Dodds and Atkinson, 2000):
"Geopolitical thought emerged at the close of the nineteenth century as geographers and other thinkers sought to analyse, explain and understand the
" ". it has always been very easy to identify the nationality of an author from the content of his or her writings... The central role for the state as only powerful entity is very typical for the definition of Kjellen.is associated with the neo-conservative. Taylor wrote that the revival of Geopolitics had taken shape in three ways: "." Kjellen (Swedish citizen..the second form. a doctrine on the spatial determinism of all political processes. Taylor related Geopolitics to . politics) and space (territory. Karl Haushofer Haushofer (1869-1946).geopolitics has become a popular term for describing global rivalries in world politics. based on the broad foundations of geography.is an academic one. 1864-1922) was the first who coined the concept of Geopolitics in 1899 (Cohen.the third form.. defining it as: "the theory of the state as a geographical organism or phenomenon in space" This definition contains two elements that are crucial within the concept of geopolitics: power (influence.. Such studies talk of 'geopolitical imperatives' and treat geography as 'the permanent factor' that all strategic thinking must revolve around.. Peter Taylor In 1993.transformations and finite spaces of the fin de siècle world." ". added political processes to the definition of Geopolitics (Cohen..." Taylor further stated that geopolitical analyses always had a national bias: "In the case of geopolitics. whose ideas inspired the Naziregime. 2003): "Geopolitics is the new national science of the state.. pro-military lobby which have added geopolitical arguments to their 'Cold War rhetoric'. Critical historiographical studies of past geopolitics have been a necessary component of this 'geographer's geopolitics'.." Haushofer considered Political Geography as an essential part of Geopolitics. 2003). .. especially of political geography. soil).".. a new more critical geopolitics.
une permances de la recherche de l'États. ne signifie pas que les États sont les seuls acteurs mondiaux. il y a d'autre part. en plein contexte de mondialisation. (. une continuité. on the other hand.) Both geographical settings and political processes are dynamic. pour nombre d'États constitués et historiquement anciens." Aymeric Chauprade Chauprade (1999) has developed a well-structured geopolitical methodology.. T O T O P O F PA G E Saul Bernard Cohen Cohen used this definition in his 2003 book: "Geopolitics is the analysis of the interaction between. (. political processes. à travers l'étude des profiles. comme un atteste.. geographical settings and perspectives and. on the one hand. .) la science géopolitique admet d'autres acteurs et d'autres réalités géopolitiques.. une permanence de la politique étrangère et du comportement étatique sur la scène internationale." Although Chauprade appreciated the role of the state. le phenomène de prolifération des États... dans l'histoire des sociétés humaines. figures et dispositifs géopolitiques" This definition left open what Chauprade meant by Geopolitics. but subsequently he clarified his position: "La géopolitique n'est pas seulement une science de la réalité identitaire.dire que ces États sont les centres et les enjeux des ambitions géopolitiques.International Relations: "Geopolitics has generally been part of the realist tradition of International Relations.. elle est aussi une science marquée par la continuité du temps: il y a d'une part. He defined geopolitics as: La science géopolitique est la recherche de la compréhension des réalités géopolitiques et de leur devenir. à la différence des relations internationales." Chauprade distinguished sharply between Geopolitics and International Relations. he deviated from the definition of the classical geopoliticians: ".
mais aussi entre des mouvements politiques ou des groupes armés plus ou moins clandestins . (." It stressed that a geopolitical analysis should be an objective reflection of the world: "C'est pourtant dans l'explication de la complexité." The definition focuses on the dynamic interaction between power and space.. he stated that: "Le terme de géopolitique. Geopolitics addresses the consequences of this interaction.et pas seulement entre des États. désigne en fait tout ce qui concerne les rivalités de pouvoirs ou d'influence sur des territoires et les populations qui y vivent: rivalités entre des pouvoirs politiques de toutes sortes . Le dictionnaire historique et géopolitique du 20e siècle This encyclopedia (Cordellier.and each influences and is influenced by the other.) [L'analyse géopolitique] doit être de présenter les élements objectifs du débat démocratique sur les grands enjeux planétaires qui ont des impacts sur les sociétés nationales et les modes de gestion de leurs territoires. 2005) also focuses on power (politics) and space: "La démarche géopolitique vise essentiellement à élucider les interactions entre les configurations spatiales et ce qui relève du politique. dont on fait de nos jours de multiples usages." T O T O P O F PA G E Yves Lacoste Yves Lacoste has contributed substantially to the revival of Geopolitics in France since the 1970s." This definition stresses the importance of the scale of both power (states versus organisations) and space (large versus small territories).. de la diversité du monde réel que la démarche d'analyse géopolitique trouve sa raison d'être.rivalités pour le contrôle ou la domination de territoires de grande ou petite taille. In a recent book (2006). Colin Flint .
to study geopolitics we must study discourse. Flint mentioned a relatively new school within Geopolitics: "Critical Geopolitics".. power was seen simply as the relative power of countries in foreign affairs. Dalby and Routledge.." He notes that ". coloured world views of male.. although its meaning has been subject to several changes: "Geopolitics. in the contemporary world and with the intent of offering a critical analysis? Our goals of understanding. a key figure of the school of "Critical Geopolitics". (.." Flint further stressed the need to define Geopolitics in various ways:: "So how should we define geopolitics.the practise of identifying the power relationships within geopolitical statements. This school focuses on the underlying assumptions of geopolitical analyses: "...geopolitics is a way of 'seeing' the world" and disagrees with those geopolitical analysts that pretend that one individual can fully understand the world. the struggle over the control of spaces and places. Finally.Flint (2006) extensively discussed the historical development of the concept of Geopolitics.. with a particular emphasis on state competition and the geographical dimensions of power. In the late twentieth century. He noted that power has always had a central role in the definition. which can be defined as the representational practises by which . (.) [d]efinitions of power were dominated by a focus on a country's ability to wage war with other countries. stated in a reader (Ó Tuathail. 2006) that: ".. and being able to critique world politics require us to work with more than one definition..geopolitics is discourse about world politics. focuses upon power.) In nineteenth and early twentieth century geopolitical practises..." T O T O P O F PA G E Gerard Toal (Gearóid Ó Tuathail) Toal." Toal stressed the importance of the concept of discourse: ". He further remarked that feminists disapproved the partial.. analyzing.. white and rich theorists.. recent discussions of power have become more sophisticated. However.
) Many geopolitical narratives are enframed by essentialized oppositions between 'us' and 'them'. (." Toal further notes that some journalists." "Finally.. Based on a "critical genealogical study". (.. (.. (.. (. This school states that a neutral.) It provides a framework within which local events in one place can be related to a larger global picture. (.) we must be attentive to the ways in which global space is labelled..) Because those most interested in international affairs live in a globalizing world characterized by information saturation.. objective geopolitical analysis is very hard to materialise as every individual is part of a certain geopolitical "truth".) The critical point to grasp at the outset is that geopolitics is already involved in world politics. geopolitics is popular because it promises insight into the future direction of world affairs. (. geopolitical discourse deals with compelling questions of power and danger in world affairs. the desire for simplified nostrums packaged as 'strategic insight' is strong. a frameworking we can call 'earth labelling'. geopolitics is attractive because it purports to explain a great deal in simple terms. metaphors are deployed.) Whole regions of the world are divided into oppositional zones. die de wisselwerking wil onderzoeken tussen .." The views of "Critical Geopolitics" are a challenging and fascinating contribution to the geopolitical debate.. David Criekemans Criekemans published the first Dutch book on Geopolitics since the Second World War in 2007.) Since geopolitics is a discourse with distinctive 'world' constitutive ambitions (.. Criekemans defined Geopolitics as: "[Geopolitiek is] het wetenschappelijk studieveld behorende tot zowel de Politieke Geografie als de Internationale Betrekkingen..) Geopolitics has a certain magical appeal because it aspires to be prophetic discourse.cultures creatively constitute meaningful worlds.. it is not separate neutral commentary on it. politicians and strategic advisors have various reasons to highly appreciate the geopolitical discourse: "First. (.." "Second..) Most cultures do this by means of stories (narratives) and images.. and visual images are used in this process of making stories and constructing images of world politics... The main focus of Critical Geopolitics is the artificiality of constructed spaces...
2003. Whether Geopolitics is part of International Relations is subject to discussion. sa vision et sa représentation de l'espace" Literature Chauprade. David. Cordellier. "Introduction à l'analyse géopolitique". 1999. Rowman and Littlefield. Aymeric. one school (Critical Geopolitics) considers this as virtually impossible.. The definition of geopolitics depends on time and location. Voor wat betreft de studie van de 'praktische geopolitiek' betreft (. For those still looking for more: the book of Criekemans offers dozens of other definitions. Current definitions also appreciate the power of other entities (Flint: "geopolitical agents"). Criekemans focuses on the interaction (dynamics) between politics and territory. Like Cohen.). soil) have played a crucial role in the definitions of geopolitics. Interestingly. politics) and space (territory.. Saul Bernard. Haushofer's definition focused on the former and Taylor's on the latter. sa géographie. Ellipses. "Le dictionnaire historique et géopolitique du 20e siècle". "Geopolitics of the World System". Moreau Defarges (2005) said this in a beautiful way: "À chaque époque. à chaque civilisation. La Découverte. power (influence. Cohen. Initially.. 2005.. the definitions of geopolitics included only the state as powerful entity. including hard-to-find ones! T O T O P O F PA G E Conclusions Our brief view at the geopolitical literature yielded some interesting results: Since the coining of the concept of geopolitics by the end of the nineteenth century. betekent dit dat men aandacht heeft voor de vraag in welke mate de eerder genoemde wisselwerking een invloed genereert op het (buitenlandse) beleid of op de relevante 'machtspositie' van de politieke entiteit welke mens wenst te analyseren. Serge (direction)." This definition states that Geopolitics is part of both Political Geography and International Relations. "Geopolitiek .'Geografisch geweten van de . Criekemans.).de politiek handelende mens en zijn omgevende territorialiteit (. While some geopolitical theorists desire or pretend to be capable of analytical objectivity.
2005. Ó Tuathail. "Political Geography". 237-253 Moreau Defarges. GeoJournal 46. Klaus en David Atkinson. 2000. Simon Dalby and Paul Routledge (editors). Routledge. Virginie. Routledge. Mamadouh. Lacoste. "Geopolitics in the nineties: one flag. 2006. "Introduction to Geopolitics". "Geopolitical Traditions". Larousse. "The Geopolitics Reader". Peter J. Philippe . Third Edition. . Flint. Longman. Garant. many meanings". 1998. 1993. 2006. Colin.. Dodds. Taylor. Yves. Seuil. Routledge. "Introduction à la Géopolitique". Gearóid. 2006. "Géopolitique: la longue histoire d'aujourd'hui".buitenlandse politiek?". 2007.
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