Superpower geographies

  • Created by: juliet
  • Created on: 25-02-13 10:45

Theories of superpower emergence

  • WW Rostow's Modernisation Theory: the economies of developed regions go through 5 stages of economic development and all countries must folllow this model to develop. Capitalist. Free trade. Success - Asian Tigers. Others debt burden.
  • AG Frank's Dependency Theory: the capitalist core deliberately keeps the periphery in a state of underdevelopment, exploiting their cheap resources. Counter-argument: Rise of the NICs - the Asian Tigers
  • Wallerstein's World Systems Theory: a more dynamic three tier system where some countries are able to enter the semi-periphery and emerge to be part of ther core.
  • Social Darwinism and Mackinder's heartlands theory: justification for the exploitation of man by man, a natural right of the superior race. Heartland: was europe and asia, whoever controlled the pivot controlled the world and therefore also the world.
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UK Colonialism

    • Mercantalist (1600-1850) - colonial settlement on coasts, focus on trade (slaves, raw materials), private trading companies (Royal African Company, defended by British forces)
    • Imperial phase (1850-1945) - extending inland, acculturalisation (India and ccricket), government institutions set up, infrastructure (transport and services) built to make colonialism more productive
    • Decolonisation (1945-): UK's post WWII bankruptcy, anti-colonial movements grow, majority of countries are independent by 1970
    • Power was maintained by: emigrating british personnel, civil servants and business men to run the Raj
    • Acculturalisation undertaken by: introducing cricket, tea drinking and english language.
    • Strict social order maintained: emphasising superiority of whites over Indians
    • India was moderninsed for the economy to better serve the needs of mother country: railway system
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Bipolar world: USA vs USSR (1945-1990)

  • USA sought to contain the power of the USSR (containment policy); the USSR created a strong core by invading and allying themselves with surrounding countries
  • Political system: Capitalism vs Communism
  • Allies: Western Europe, NATO, Japan, South Korea, developing countries vs Easten Europe (Warsaw Pact Countries), Aalliances with socialist govs (e.g. Cuba)
  • Military power: Both had naval/air based military power. USA had established a 'ring' around the USSR, whilst the USSR had troops in W. Europe. They both had global intelligence (the KGB in USSR)
  • Cold War: No direct military confrontation
  • However there were flashpoimnt periods of tension:
    • the cuban missile crisis 1962: 13 day confrontation between the USSR and Cuba against the USA, moment where the cold war could have turned into a nuclear conflict. 
  • The collapse of Communism: President Mikhail Gorbachev introduces 'glastnost' (openess, increased freedom of speech) and 'perestroika' (economic liberation, private ownership and businesses). Both acted as cracks in the communism that eventually undermined the whole system.
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China an emerging power

  • 2008 Beijing olympic games were showcase of chinese culture, ingenuity and technology prowess
  • Chinese companies: in 2008, 70 of world's largest compaines were chinese, only 20 in 2002
  • Rapid, relentless industrialisation - Biggest emitter of CO2 gives it an important role in the fight against global warming
  • Chinese technology is advancing rapidly: in 2008, the chinese had their first walk on the moon
  • China's large demand for resources: construction boom in major cities like Shanghai - the largest producer and consumer of steel in the world. 
  • Military power: Just built its first aircraft carrier, its modernising military will be advantageous in increasing their global influence and resolving disputes in their favour. Taiwan = Chinese using military to contain Taiwan. 
  • Chinese ecological deficit: China demands the equivalent of two China's worth of biocapacity
  • Energy: China's % change in oil consumption 2000-10 is +90%
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Maintaining power: Neo-colonialism

Ghana: Cocoa trade and other produce

  • Commodity traders - the price of cocoa is determined by commodity trade exhanges in London and New York. Cocoa prices depend on global supply and demand, which are determined by big TNCs like Cadbury and Nestle, and they vary. Ghana has competitiors (e.g. Ivory Coast which is now the worl's largest producer) which may provide cheaper prices. There is a downwards pressure on prices.
  • Dependency theory: In 2000, some west African countries decided to burn some of they cocoa crops to reduce supply and force the global supply up - an attempt to leave a system where poor countries depend on rich countries for trade and income.
  • Overseas tariffs: cheap primary products leave poor countries, are manufactured in richer countries (value added) and are sold back to poor countries. Ghanna cannot process their own processing industries due to tarrif escalation (countries placing high tarrifs on imported goods that they manufacture themselves) Tarriffs on cocoa imported into Japan and USA go up to 65%.
  • WTO: (Ghana joined 1995) can't subsidise goods and have to allow imports of cheaper heavily subsidised european tomotatoes and US rice
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Superpowers + International decision-making

The EU:

  • The 27 EU countries exceed the economic weight of the USA - 31% of global GDP
  • EU play an important role in ionternational political decisions as they form a big part of the 'over lap'. They are in NATO, G8 as well as other organisations.
  • Future influence: futher enlargement; possible EU defence force?

 THE BANANA DISPUTE - 90's (example of the US' ability to influence international trade agreements to favour themselves)

  • 1993 EU sought to protect small-scale banana producers from former colonies by imposing tarriffs and quotas on imported bananas from other countries.
  • US cooperation, Chiquita, lobbies US govt and makes large political contributions to trigger a response from govt.
  • 1995 US govt complains to WTO.
  • Ruling: EU allowed to import a duty-free quota of 75,000 tonnes of bananas from ACP countries (former Carribean and African colonies), all other imports attracting a tarriff of which the EU set at 176 euroes (considered to be too high)
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Resource implications of continued growth


  • Car ownership: Growth in car sales in China has ncreased from just under a million cars being sold in 2000 to over 3 million in 2005
  • China buys foreign companies and resources in order to secure future supplies:
    • 2007, China bought a 20% stake in Standard Bank Group Ltd. (South Africa's largest bank and a major influence on investment in South African mineral reserves.)
    • 2006, a chinese oil cooperation spent US$2.7bn buying Nigerian oil fields.
  • Chinese and Indian ecological footprints may be similar to that of the EU and the USA by 2040
    • 16/200 of the word's most polluted cities, suffers from acid rain and polluted rivers (Yangtze)
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Implications of shifting power for older core regi


  • European countries buy 80% of its oil exports
  • Increasing global influence due to it's large energy reserves:
    • 2006, Russia cut supplies to Ukraine for 3days over payment disputes
    • 2008, Russian troops enter Georgia leading to short conflict and international crisis
    • 2007, Russian submarines planted two flags on Arctic seabed, claiming sovereignity over the area and any possible oil reserves there
    • Russia has repeatedly warned NATO not to expand into eastern europpe or sant misiles there.
    • 2008-2009, Russian gas supplies were cut to the Ukraine and the EU 
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