Popular Geopolitics: Seeing, Feeling, Knowing

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I want to begin by outlining the structure of this paper, and discussing its broad aims and objectives. The starting point of this paper is to review and reflect upon the field of geographical enquiry that has come to be known as “popular geopolitics”. The notion of popular geopolitics has been around now for well over a decade, after first emerging in the writings of Gearóid Ó Tuathail, Simon Dalby and Joanne Sharp. Ó Tuathail and Dalby (1998) envisaged popular geopolitics as one part of a three-fold typology of “critical geopolitics”, together with formal geopolitics and practical geopolitics. In the course of the last decade much work has been done in this area, and research has been conducted a wide range of popular geopolitical forms—photography, news media, music, novels, cartoons, and most numerously, film. This interest in the relationship between popular culture and global politics has not been confined to geography either—in the same way that critical geopolitics shares much with critical or dissident international relations, popular geopolitics shares much with debates in International Relations on the “aesthetic turn” (Bleiker 2001).

In reviewing the development of these debates on popular geopolitics, my intention is to highlight a series of key issues that require clarificationand elaboration. There are two inter-related concerns in particular that Iseek to address in this paper. The first of these is to begin to make much stronger connections between work on popular geopolitics and the notionof geographical knowledge. Whilst much interesting and worthwhile work has taken place on the relationship between culture and politics, asustained argument on why understanding such connections are important,or on what difference cultural forms make in the playing out of politics,has often been lacking. I want to suggest that by using the notion of “geographical knowledge” as an organising theme, it might be possible tobegin to overcome this shortcoming.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Chapters of Modern Human Geographical Thought
    Chapters of Modern Geographical Thought is a compilation of original, state-of-the-art essays written by recognized scholars, covering a wide range of topics from human geography, always paying tribute to the multidisciplinary nature of the field. This book will provide students with penetrating analyses of seven fields, including critical geopolitics of film and affect, the political economy of the environment, ethnic problems in the Caucasus, the US and Mexico relations, new social movements in Southern Africa or identity politics and the legal recognition of the Silesian minority in Poland. All the essays emphasize the interconnectedness of a globalized world.
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