The State

Authored by: Sami Moisio

The Ashgate Research Companion to Critical Geopolitics

Print publication date:  January  2013
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409423805
eBook ISBN: 9781315612874
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043720


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Geopolitics and the state have always been seamlessly intertwined. For the European geopolitical thinkers of the early twentieth century, geopolitics was a scientific approach concerned with the impact of geographical factors on the constitution, success and maintenance of states. Geopolitics was entangled with the territorialization of political power around the state. It was about drawing state borders, building nations as definite territories, constructing domestic social order through various biopolitical techniques, and about geographical justifications of territorial claims. Classical geopolitical thought thus represents a wider twentieth-century discourse which Ó Tuathail terms ‘geo-power’ (1996). It is epitomized, for instance, in the works of geopolitical scholars such as Rudolf Kjellén and Friedrich Ratzel. Their conceptualizations of the relationship between politics and space were, indeed, theories of the state and the fundamental elements of state sovereignty. The geopolitical system presented by Kjellén, for instance, was an attempt to single out the different constituents of the state: the nation, the national elites, the population of the state, the civil society and its ‘life’ (what he termed ‘biopolitics’) and state apparatus (Kjellén 1919).

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