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Critical Geopolitics: The Politics of Writing Global Space (Barrows Lectures) Paperback – August 15, 1996


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Product Details

  • Series: Barrows Lectures (Book 6)
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press; 1 edition (August 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816626030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816626038
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
The present work, undertaken by a energetic and committed group of scholars, is an effort to subject one of the sturdiest pillars of political discourse to the analysis developed by the "cultural studies revolution," many of the important repercussions of which have yet to be completely digested by mainstream political science. The bulk of the contemporary literature is still dominated by scholars who, if they have bothered to give the matter any thought at all, have reexamined the history of their fields in only the most cursory manner. Theirs is an effort to smooth the feathers of the new academic order's more vocal partisans, so that the old business of authoritative theorizing and the development of grand schemata might proceed apace. Brandishing their newly minted PC credentials, they excuse themselves and retire to the map room with their compasses and toy soldiers.
Not so Professors Tuathail, Dalby, and Routledge. They are well aware of the historical role of their discipline (geography) in shaping political relations between nations in the last century, of its complicity in two world wars and the U.S.-Soviet detente. Now, at a time when the heirs of Karl Haushofer and George Kennan are all making bids on the new geopolitical "paradigm," Tuathail et al. arrive on the scene with a profound and damning history of the whole avocation. It is to their immense credit that after being exposed to these volumes, one finds it impossible to read Foreign Affairs in quite the same light. As if by magic, the latest pronouncements of the Kissengers, the Fukuyamas, and the Huntingtons that grace the pages of that august journal strain, crack, and shatter.
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Format: Paperback
I find Toal's book an approach worth discussing. Yet, I disagree with him on almost every single aspect on how he outlines "critical geopolitics". I found this approach not critical at all, rather deeply philosophically flawed. To anybody unfamiliar with the twists of postmodern philosophy, Toal's use of the word "geography" must seem rather comical.

So where do I possibly start? I try to comprehend (which is not easy, because Toal is not very concise): Toal outlines "critical geopolitics" in the following way: "classical geopolitics" is a problem-solving theory for the conceptualization and practice of statecraft". In contrast, critical geopolitics is a problematizing theoretical enterprise that places the existing structures of power and knowledge in question." Classical geopolitics is an unrefexively Eurocentric and narrowly rational cultural practice of `experts' in powerful Western institutions" and, therefore, Toal concludes: "geopolitics is not about power politics: it is power politics!" Toal attributes manicheism, mysticism, counter-modernism and many more features to classical geopolitics. Critical geopolitics on the other hand constructs a foreign policy that needs to be sensitive to the particularity and diversity of the world's states, and to global processes and challenges that transcend state-centric reasoning."

This is wrong for so many reasons: First, those who use geopolitical theories are have seldom been powerful at all (safe Brzesinski or Kissinger). Second, geopolitical theory does not play a very large role in the contemporary literature or in these "powerful institutions". Third, people who use the term "geopolitics" do not all mean the same.
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Format: Paperback
I must say that the work of the author is impressive in the way that it gives a wide and in-depth overview of the foundations of geopolitics in a way of interesting, narrative story. The part on French geopolitics is well-written.
Interesting and well-written.
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By Mark Twain on April 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommend this book to anyone interested to know more about geopolitics, international relations, and thinking critically in general.
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