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2021 Spring

POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY - IRS250 Spring 2021


Course
Robert Warren
For information about registration please contact our admissions.

An analysis of the impact of geography on the development of political organisation, the building of national identity, and the strategies involved in geopolitical relations.

This course will examine the ever-evolving relationships between space, people and power – or territory, nation and state. Over the past 350 years the territorial nation-state has become the dominant actor in world politics. The development of this role, specifically looking at the origins of the state and the concept of territorial right will be central to the course. We will continue by examining state expansionism and imperialism, the challenges of inter-state relations from a geopolitical perspective, and more recently, the impact of non-state actors and supra-national institutions on state sovereignty. Understanding issues of hegemony, identity, locality, migration and how people perceive global space will be fundamental in our analysis.

Here is the course outline:

1. Course Introduction: The Geography of Civilization

Feb 09

1. Course overview, methods of evaluation, defining terminology 2. A history of the development of civilization from a geographic, topographic and climactic perspective

2. Early State Formation: Surplus, War & Stratified Society

Feb 16

Using a series of contemporary theories, this class examines the primary factors that contributed to the emergence of early forms of societal development and political organization.

3. Modern State Formation: Territory, Sovereignty & Nation

Feb 23

An examination into the Enlightenment political thought and historical machinations that lead to the development of the modern territorial nation-state.

4. Borders & Boundaries: Lines of Separation and Interaction

Mar 02

Examining the fundamental concept of division and its impact on policy and people from both a micro and macro perspective

5. The Geography of Nationalism: Liberator & Oppressor

Mar 09

The impact location has on identity and the emergence of state nationalism in 19th century Europe

6. MID-TERM EXAM

Mar 16

Based on all classes and readings up to this point of the semester. The exam will be in the form of multiple-choice questions and short essays.

7. Imperialist Narratives & The Geographies of European Expansionism

Mar 23

Examining the economic, political and geographic implications of the European colonial era, as well as the current economic and political realities of the post-colonial world.

8. Geopolitics: Origins of the Sub-discipline

Mar 30

A history of geopolitical theory; from the founders of the late 19th century, to the study's tarnished reputation in 1930s Germany

9. Hegemony: Paths to Global Dominance

Apr 13

An examination of the history of hegemonic power; from the colonial empires of the Portuguese, Dutch and British, to the post-1945 emergence of US hegemony to its position in the 21st century. What does it take to become a hegemon, and who will be next?

10. Student Presentations Pt. 1

Apr 20

Students will present an 8-10 minute case study applying a selected theory from the course readings

11. Student Presentations Pt. 2

Apr 27

Students will present an 8-10 minute case study applying a selected theory from the course readings

12. Post-Colonial Constructs: The Challenges of Emerging Nations

May 04

To provide an understanding of the term 'post-colonial' from several perspectives, followed by an analysis of the political, social, and economic challenges post-colonial nation-states face. A case study of Sri Lanka (once Ceylon) will be provided to help underline notable post-colonial pitfalls.

13. Territorial Disputes: Claims, Conflicts and Resolutions

May 11

Using a series of real-life case studies, the concept of territorial right will be analyzed, looking at issues such as, historical imperative, territorial integrity and effective control

14. FINAL EXAM

May 18

Based on all classes and readings from the whole course. The exam will be in the form of multiple-choice questions and short essays.

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