Political Geography

Jason Dittmer

in Geography

ISBN: 9780199874002
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:
Political Geography

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Political geography is a subdiscipline of human geography that has an evolving relationship with the other subdisciplines, especially cultural, urban, and environmental geography. Historically, political geography has largely concerned itself with the spatialities of the state, whether internal or external. In addition, early political geography often attempted to derive insights from the natural world, often leaving it open to accusations of environmental determinism. Later, political geography would follow the rest of the discipline in abandoning environmental determinism for quantitative, Marxist, and cultural turns but would generally do so several years after the other parts of the discipline. Nevertheless, each of these turns remains embedded within the contemporary literature of the subdiscipline. For instance, the quantitative revolution can be witnessed in the ongoing (if limited) agenda of electoral geography, whereas economic structuralism continues to feature strongly within political geography, in its world-systems theory, regulation theory, and political ecology variants. The cultural turn can be found throughout the subdiscipline, with its post-structuralist sensibilities dominant in studies of identity, geopolitics, and beyond. Yet, it is not just theoretical orientations that have changed since the 1990s; the entire focus of political geography has been called into question as well, as the cultural turn and the rise of feminism as a major influence on the subdiscipline have highlighted the distinction between “Politics” and “politics.” Politics (with a capital P) can be understood to be the realm of the state and formal political processes. Political geography has traditionally studied Politics in this sense. However, the realization that politics suffuses all spheres of life has not only opened up political geography to new topics and scales of analysis, this move has also blurred the boundaries, in largely productive ways, with neighboring subdisciplines, such as cultural, urban, and environmental geography. In short, political geography has become more diverse, more diffuse, and more central to the geographic endeavor than ever.

Article.  9826 words. 

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography ; Human Geography

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