Monday, April 20, 2009

Robert Kaplan's "Revenge of Geography"

9/11/2012:  Be sure to read the blog's short interview with Kaplan.

Robert Kaplan is a well known author in the geopolitical world (and the geopolitical blog Coming Anarchy has its genesis with his article "Coming Anarchy"). His latest piece has recently been published in Foreign Policy and it applies directly to geographers. The eight page opus is entitled "The Revenge of Geography."

A paragraph line on the first page sums up why geography is still important in an era where geography and history were previously declared dead.

"And yet, to embrace geography is not to accept it as an implacable force against which humankind is powerless. Rather, it serves to qualify human freedom and choice with a modest acceptance of fate. This is all the more important today, because rather than eliminating the relevance of geography, globalization is reinforcing it. Mass communications and economic integration are weakening many states, exposing a Hobbesian world of small, fractious regions. Within them, local, ethnic, and religious sources of identity are reasserting themselves, and because they are anchored to specific terrains, they are best explained by reference to geography. Like the faults that determine earthquakes, the political future will be defined by conflict and instability with a similar geographic logic. The upheaval spawned by the ongoing economic crisis is increasing the relevance of geography even further, by weakening social orders and other creations of humankind, leaving the natural frontiers of the globe as the only restraint."

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