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Analytical Geopolitics

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Analytical Geopolitics
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Analytical Geopolitics is an interdisciplinary approach within the field of geopolitics and International Relations (IR), developed to address the evolving complexities of global politics. It emphasizes systematic analysis of geopolitical myths, narratives, and identities, scrutinizing their historical emergence, constitutive elements, and impact on state behavior and policy-making.

Overview[edit]

Analytical Geopolitics is an approach within geopolitical studies that dissects and interprets the influence of geopolitical myths on state behavior and international relations. It emphasizes the integral role of political myths and geography in shaping national identity and influencing political decisions.[1]

Geopolitical myths are narratives that imbue political significance into geographical concepts, fostering a collective sense of place and identity for a nation or society. Such myths can shape political competition, as differing visions of a nation's role in the world can create political divisions. Analytical Geopolitics investigates how these myths engender a sense of location, belonging, and identity, thereby defining a state's perceived position in the global landscape, identifying allies and adversaries, and influencing strategic and foreign policy choices.

Theoretical Foundations[edit]

The approach marks a departure from Classical Geopolitics, which adopted materialistic and positivist stances, and from Critical Geopolitics, which treated geography as a socially constructed reality shaped by power dynamics and political agendas.[2] [3] Analytical Geopolitics instead bridges these perspectives, proposing a new line of inquiry that integrates insights from the epistemological philosophy of New Materialism.[4] This perspective emphasizes the interaction between material conditions and mental constructs in forming social realities, focusing on geography's active role rather than its static attributes. In the way Bruno Latour questions the continuing relevance of critique, Analytical Geopolitics assumes a realist, postcritique attitude.[5]

Methodology[edit]

Analytical Geopolitics involves a structural-historical examination of geopolitical myths, exploring their components, historical evolution, and influence on national and international policy. These myths are seen as narrative frameworks that provide temporal and spatial coherence, emotional attachment to place, and a collective sense of identity and purpose. Their continuity, adaptability, and intertextuality are key to understanding their historical persistence and influence.[6]

This approach also considers how myths underpin the legitimacy of political communities and shape policy-making processes.[7] [8] [9] By scrutinizing these narratives, Analytical Geopolitics aims to untangle the intricate interplay between ideas and material conditions that support the territorial state and its geopolitical actions, moving beyond conventional paradigms to a more nuanced understanding of the forces shaping geopolitical realities.

Origin[edit]

The concept of Analytical Geopolitics was first articulated in 2019 in a doctoral thesis by Antonios Nestoras, titled "Belonging to the West: Geopolitical Myths and Identity in Modern Greece."[10] The thesis explored how Greece's historical ties with Europe and the Western world have been influenced by enduring geopolitical myths.

These myths encompass narratives of Greece's historical, cultural, and geographic positioning as part of Europe and the West, significantly influencing Greek politics across different eras, particularly in strategic and foreign policy arenas. Key myths include the portrayal of Greece as a bridge between East and West, the narrative of Greek national continuity, and the cultural affinity with Europe and the West. Such narratives have been continually adapted to counter rival geopolitical myths and respond to changing international contexts, with the myth of Western belonging remaining influential from the Enlightenment through to the euro crisis, shaping Greece's strategic and foreign policy direction.

Key Concepts[edit]

Geopolitical Myths
These are powerful and pervasive narratives that infuse geographical concepts with political significance, thereby shaping national identity, perceptions of territorial space, and a nation’s place within the international system. Geopolitical myths are instrumental as they encapsulate and reinforce the historical and cultural ethos of a nation, legitimizing and guiding domestic and international strategies, as well as foreign policies. They serve not only as a means of national self-conception but also as a framework through which other nations perceive and interact with the state.
Structural-Historical Analysis
An analytical approach that seeks to unravel the layered and complex nature of geopolitical myths through a dual lens of narrative structure and historical progression. In this way, Analytical Geopolitics accounts for what Blumenberg observed as myths' quality both for a “high degree of constancy” and a “marginal variation”.[11] By dissecting the components and evolution of these myths, scholars can discern their influence on policy formulation and state behavior. This methodology illuminates the ways in which myths inform national agendas, shape international alliances and enmities, and influence the global geopolitical landscape over time.
Continuity, Adaptability, and Intertextuality of Myths
Traits that are key to understanding the persistence and influence of geopolitical myths. Just like national[12] and social myths[13] geopolitical myths may also exhibit a remarkable resilience and dynamism, evidenced by their continuity across generations, their adaptability to different political and cultural landscapes, and their intertextual nature, which allows them to be woven into the fabric of a nation’s collective memory and identity. These traits make geopolitical myths a central, though often underappreciated, force in the endurance and evolution of national narratives.
Shift in Geopolitical Analysis
A paradigmatic shift towards a synthesis of classical geopolitics and critical geopolitics with contemporary philosophical insights. Analytical Geopolitics advocates transcending the binary of classical and critical geopolitics. Classical geopolitics may traditionally emphasizes geographical determinism and tangible, static factors in international affairs, whereas critical geopolitics focuses on the ideational, perceiving geography as a byproduct of social constructions and power dynamics. Analytical Geopolitics proposes a synthesis of these views, integrating contemporary philosophical insights that consider both the materiality of geography and its social significance, thus offering a more holistic and dynamic perspective.
Renewed Materialism in Geopolitics
Acknowledging the active role of physical geography in geopolitical thought. Inspired by the New Materialism philosophy, this concept reinvigorates the role of physical geography in geopolitical thought, acknowledging that landscapes, resources, and spatial arrangements actively shape political narratives and outcomes. It challenges the abstraction of geography in some contemporary geopolitical discourse, repositioning the material environment as an influential actor in the geopolitical theatre, co-creating realities with human agents and ideas.
Place-Identity
The symbiotic relationship between a people and their environment, where geography shapes cultural, political, and social character. At the heart of Analytical Geopolitics is the understanding that geographical locations and material features are not just passive backdrops but are intrinsic to the formation of national and geopolitical identities. The narratives and myths that emerge from these relationships with place provide a sense of belonging, orient strategic imperatives, and engender a distinctive worldview. Place-identity emphasizes the symbiotic relationship between a people and their environment, where geography is both shaped by and shapes the cultural, political, and social character of a nation.[14]

Key Texts[edit]

  • Nestoras, A. (2023). Belonging to the West: Geopolitical Myths and Identity in Modern Greece: A Study of Analytical Geopolitics. Brill Nijhoff. [1]
  • Nestoras, A. (2021). Place-identity and renewed materialism in geopolitics: towards an analytical approach?. SN Social Sciences, 1(5), 119. [2]
  • Nestoras, A. (2021). Analysing Geopolitical Myths: Towards a Method for Analytic Geopolitics. In Criekemans, D. (ed.) Geopolitics and International Relations: Grounding World Politics Anew (pp. 194-218). Brill Nijhoff. [3]
  • Nestoras, A. (2019). Belonging to the West? Geopolitical Mythmaking in Modern Greece from the Enlightenment to the Euro-crisis (Doctoral dissertation, Vrije Universiteit Brussel/University of Antwerp). [4] [5]

Future Research Directions[edit]

Future research directions in Analytical Geopolitics are poised to further dissect and understand the complex interplay between geography, political power, and narrative myths within the broader context of international relations. Scholars are likely to delve deeper into comparative studies of geopolitical myths across different cultures and political entities, examining how these narratives evolve in response to global changes, such as technological advancements, environmental challenges, and shifting power dynamics. Another promising avenue is the application of Analytical Geopolitics to digital spaces, where cyber territories and information landscapes are becoming increasingly significant in the geopolitical arena.

Additionally, there is potential for interdisciplinary collaboration, combining insights from geography, political science, cultural studies, and history to enrich the analytical frameworks and methodologies. Embracing the epistemological diversity offered by Critical Theory, Post-structuralism, and New Materialism, future research will aim to provide a more nuanced understanding of how geopolitical narratives are constructed, disseminated, and contested in an interconnected world. This will not only contribute to academic discourse but could also inform policymakers in crafting more nuanced and effective foreign policies.

References[edit]

  1. Nestoras, A. (2023). Belonging to the West: Geopolitical Myths and Identity in Modern Greece: A Study of Analytical Geopolitics. Brill Nijhoff. Search this book on
  2. Tuathail, Gearóid Ó (1996). Critical geopolitics: the politics of writing global space. London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415157018. Search this book on
  3. Agnew, J. A. (1998). Geopolitics: Re-visioning World Politics. Routledge. Search this book on
  4. Bennett, Jane (4 January 2010). Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822346333. Search this book on
  5. Latour, B. (2004). "Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern". Critical Inquiry. 30 (2): 225–248.
  6. Nestoras, A. (2021). "Analysing Geopolitical Myths: Towards a Method for Analytic Geopolitics". In Criekemans, D. Geopolitics and International Relations: Grounding World Politics Anew. Brill Nijhoff. pp. 194–218. ISBN 9789004432086. Search this book on
  7. Barthes, R.; Lavers, A. (2000). Mythologies. Penguin. Search this book on
  8. Bell, D. S. A. (2003). "Mythscapes: Memory, mythology, and national identity". British Journal of Sociology. 54: 63–81.
  9. Della Sala, V. (2010). "Political myth, mythology and the European Union". Journal of Common Market Studies. 48 (1): 1–19.
  10. Nestoras, A. (2019). Belonging to the West? Geopolitical Mythmaking in Modern Greece from the Enlightenment to the Euro-crisis (Ph.D. Dissertation). Vrije Universiteit Brussel / University of Antwerp.
  11. Blumenberg, H. (2010). Work on Myth. MIT Press. p. 34. Search this book on
  12. Bouchard, G. (2013). G. Bouchard, ed. National Myths: Constructed Pasts, Contested Presents. Routledge. Search this book on
  13. Bouchard, G. (2016). "Social Myths: A New Approach". Philosophy Study. 6 (6): 356–366.
  14. Nestoras, A. (2021). "Place-identity and renewed materialism in geopolitics: towards an analytical approach?". SN Social Sciences. 1 (5): 119.


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