Political Theory and Human Geography

  • Graham Smith


Since the 1970s there has been a revival of interest in political theory in geography. At the heart of this renaissance is a concern about the underlying character of modern political life and of the way in which space is important to how politics is constituted and practiced. As a consequence political geography, that branch of geography whose legitimacy rests on its claim to be the most directly concerned with ‘the political’, has undergone a much welcomed sea change. This is not to suggest that traditional political geography was unconcerned with political theory. We only need to recall the works of such influential turn-of-the-century political theorists as Halford Mackinder (heartland theory), Friedrich Ratzel (author of lebensraum) and Peter Kropotkin (idea of decentralised, self-sufficient and ecologically balanced communities) to remind ourselves of the subject’s rich, influential and diverse intellectual heritage. Compared, however, with the subject’s more inward-looking recent past, in which there was little concern with or advance in political theory, today political geography recognises that pivotal to comprehending our modern world is a theoretically informed subject that acknowledges the centrality of power and of power relations to understanding our political world (Driver, 1991; Smith, 1985).


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© Morag Bell 1994

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  • Graham Smith

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