Introduction: Geopolitics and its Critics

Authored by: Klaus Dodds , Merje Kuus , Joanne Sharp

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


 Download Chapter



Geopolitics, as an intellectual field, enjoys a mixed reputation. Lionized by some as an insightful guide into the geographical study of strategic relations between states, it has been castigated by others for being an accomplice of authoritarianism and fascism. For the American geographer, Richard Hartshorne, it was an intellectual poison and thus best avoided for the scholarly health of the unwary (Hartshorne 1954; Dodds and Atkinson 2000). While it possible to chart a pre-history to geopolitics, most agree that its genesis lies with a particular conflagration of social Darwinism and late nineteenth-century fin-de-siècle Europe (Parker 1985; Heffernan 2000). Coined by the Swedish legal jurist, Rudolf Kjellé;n, geopolitics was infused with a social Darwinist preoccupation for the survival prospects of societies and states. When combined with ongoing imperial rivalries, alongside the institutional development of geography as a university subject, geopolitical studies attracted a corpus of influential writers including Halford Mackinder, Alfred Mahan and Friedrich Ratzel. Their insights into the modern world-system, the role of geographical factors such as resources and location, and the prospects for great powers such as Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and challengers have proven remarkably durable, even if they have also attracted critics and critique alike (for recent reviews, see Kearns 2009; Dodds 2010).

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.