- Code MEAS8114
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies
- ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
- Course subject Middle Eastern & Central Asian Studies
- Areas of interest Arab and Islamic Studies
Geopolitics, or the study of international relations from a geographical perspective, has a venerable tradition as an academic discipline going back to the late-19th century. It has also informed strategic thinking of great powers seeking territorial expansion or global influence. The Eurasian heartland, and especially its southern fringe comprising Central Asia, has continuously been at the centre of the interpretation of the whole world situation from a spatial viewpoint.
This course will discuss the roots of contemporary geopolitical thought, focusing on the British, continental European, American, and Russian contributions. It will examine practical manifestations of geopolitics during World War II and the Cold War before moving to an analysis of contemporary conflicts in Eurasia's southern Muslim belt through the prism of great power rivalry involving China, Russia, the USA, and other regional actors.
The course will conclude with a survey of modern critical approaches within the discipline of geopolitics, which go beyond the Realist paradigm in explaining conflictual and associative patterns of behaviour of territorial states in the region.
Introduction: What is geopolitics? The centrality of Central Asia in geographic and historical terms.
Classics of continental and British geopolitics: Ratzel, Mackinder, Haushofer and French geopolitique. Geographical pivot of history. Heartland. Lebensraum.
Alternative conceptualizations of Eurasian geopolitics: sea power, Rimlands, shatterbelts, ‘clash of civilisations' theory.
Russian geopolitical thinking: from Slavophiles to Eurasianists.
Cold War through the prism of geopolitics. What did Kennan actually say? Containment as a modification of the Rimland thesis. The importance of the Southern Tier to the US geopolitical objectives.
Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Neo-Cons: Re-Emergence of the Southern Tier in the US foreign policy. Containment of Russia, China, and Iran in Central Asia. Geopolitics of hydrocarbon resources.
Modern Russian Eurasianism: imperialism, defensive Realpolitik, and civilizing mission.
China, Turkey, and Iran: competing visions of Central Asia.
The ‘Eurasian Balkans' and a new ‘Great Game'.
Traditional modalities of geopolitical competition: alliance-making, proxy wars, and secessionism.
Soft power in Eurasia's soft underbelly: politics of aid, export of democracy, and the role of Islam.
Post-modern geopolitics? Did Mackinder get it wrong, after all?
Towards a cooperative security environment in Central Asia: latest trends and developments.
One 5,000 word essay (60%)
One 3 hour exam (40%)
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 24 hours of seminars; and b) 106 hours of online activities, practice exercises, readings and assessment.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Preliminary ReadingGeoffrey Parker. Geopolitics: Past, Present and Future. London: 1998.
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- 6 units
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Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.
|Class number||Class start date||Last day to enrol||Census date||Class end date||Mode Of Delivery||Class Summary|
|9216||23 Jul 2018||30 Jul 2018||31 Aug 2018||26 Oct 2018||In Person||N/A|