New pathways in Geopolitical research

  • Created by: sikemi__
  • Created on: 01-06-21 12:17

Neoclassical geopolitics

  • Challenging classical geopolitical analysis
  • Changes in US presidential regime between 2008 and present promised a shift in geopolitical discourse that framed the war on terror and the UK Security Strategies
    • 'From the rise of ISIL and greater instability in the Middle East, to the crisis in Ukraine, the threat of cyber attacks and the risk of pandemics, the world is more dangerous and uncertain today than five years ago. So while every government must choose how to spend the money it has available, every penny of which is hard earned by taxpayers, this Government has taken a clear decision to invest in oour security and safeguard our prosperity' (UK National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, 2015)
    • Discourse of the UK being a safe place to invest and havng a continual challenge of trying to locate threat
  • Rise of 'everywhere war; characterised by the use of drone strikes against perceived threats in a diverse range of global sites operated by both NATO-allied countries and Russia - war is not longer linked to specific places and there is a much more distributed and global spread of conflict
  • Internalises warfare as domestic security departments (e.g. CIA) increasingly manage the organisation and operation of military assets (Shaw, 2013) - not open to public scrutiny in the way that other govt departments might be
  • We also see enduring neoclassical storylines that seek to provide a geographical narrative for what is a very decentred and uncertain world
    • E.g. The Pentagon's New Map (2003) which is a case study of the desire to narrate the world within a very simple geographical storyline
    • Idea of dividing the world into sections where the functioning core is around the edges and a non integrated gap in the centre, arguing that conflict will take place between the two, evidencing this using the fragmentation of Yugoslavia
1 of 4

Enduring classical geopolitical views

  • Ideas of fixed state borders and risk posed by the outsider
  • Prominent in state responses to the pandemic - desire in the US to present this in classical geopolitical terms e.g. the virus s a product of external threats and the appropriate response to that should be an increase in the security of borders
    • Doesn't reflect on aspects of healthcare and testing that should have been considered
    • 'The United States exercised its default response: to defend itself at all costs, but only in particular ways - focusing, for example, on imagined external threats such as immigration rather than design a national strategy to address the virus going global and killing people internally' (Diaz & Mountz, 2020)
  • Texts have also sought to revise a classical geopolitical approach e.g.
    • The Revenge of Geography by Kaplan which describes how maps tell us about future conflicts that will occur by 'fate' - 'the United States, bounded by two oceans and the Canadian Arctic, is threatened only by the specter of Mexican demongraphy to its south'
    • Prisners of Geography by Marshall also explains how maps tell us 'everything we need to know about global politics' - 'the landscape imprisons their leaders, giving them fewer voices and less room to manooeuvre than you might think'
2 of 4

Geopolitical discourse as process

  • Ways in which we're seeing theoretical developments in what we understand as critical geopolitics
  • Unsettling the sense that we can extrapolate things from static images - need to understand visual imagery
    • 'Wars have always been shaped by visual fields, but they have become ever more important under the sign of science...that emphasizes the role of digital imagery in the surveillance and reconnaissance that supposedly ensures the precision-strike capacity that distinguishes advanced militaries' (Gregory, 2010)
  • Scholars have turned to exploring the production of geopolitical discourses within newspaper offices (see Campbell, 2007); film studies (see Power and Crampton, 2005); material practices of institutions (Dittmer, 2017) and even remembrance services (see Megoran, 2006)
  • Focus on image production and 'visual economy'
    • 'We need to depart from an understanding of photographs as illustrations and carriers of information (which a focus on their content could suggest) to an appreciation of pictures as ciphers that prompt affective responses' (Campbell, 2007)
  • Focus on audience
    • 'it is contended that much of the literature has been unduly preoccupied with geographical representations within all kinds of popular magazines, newspapers, comics, cartoons and films while being at the same time inattentive to reception and the kind of ways in which audiences engage and make sense, for example, of media' (Dittmer & Dodds, 2008)
3 of 4

Subaltern geopolitics

  • Term coined by Joanne Sharp which identifies that there is a lack of discussion of geopolitical narratives that aren't from great powers e.g. Western powers
  • Aims to pluralise notions of geopolitical strategy by going beyond the West and the Anglosphere, looking at how smaller states can challenge power in ways we aren't used to seeing
  • Puts into question the narratives of predominant elites and the ways in which they think of geopolitics
  • Contesting decolonisation narratives
    • Rewriting international history of the 20th century from the perspective of anti colonial activism both at the time of empire and at the time of post colonial independence
    • Recovering histories of anticolonial cosmopolitan and nationalist networks (especially Pan-Africanism and Pan-Asianism)
    • 'The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line' (du Bois, 1903)
  • Contesting development narratives
    • Development discourses of modernisation, foreign aid and good governance vs extractivism, coercive liberalisation and debt diplomacy (portraying the West as good and the rest of the world as in need of Western intervention) - 'the Responsibility to Protect'
    • 'They talk to me about progress, about achievement, diseases cured, improved standard of living. I am talking about societies drained of their essense, cultures trampled underfoot, institutions undermined, lands confiscated, religions smashed, magnificent artistic creations destroyed, extraordinary possibilities wiped out' (Cesaire, 1972)
  • Contesting postcolonial narratives
    • It is not just statesmen that can speak on geopolitics
    • 'We hereby decide to build a new form of public coexistence, in diversity and in harmony with nature, to achieve the good way of living, the sumak kawsay' (Preamble to 2008 Ecuador Constitution)
  • Subaltern Anthropocene
    • In subaltern geopolitics there is a growing reflection on the Anthropocene and idea that different societies have different levels of reislience in dealing with env impacts
    • Questions the kinds of movements, narratives and alliances that will try to shift the relationships of people around the earth in response to environmental challenges
4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Geography resources:

See all Geography resources »See all Geopolitics resources »