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Lecture 6

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Western University
Geography 1400F/G
Godwin Arku

Lecture 6 What is Political Geography?  Political geography studies the spatial dimension of human conflict and cooperation on this planet Scale of study:  Traditionally at the state level  Meaning Political Geography studies the actions of governments and institutions rather than those of actual people Essentially, political geographers are interesting in how humans…  Group themselves into nations  How those nations can form the foundation of states  How states claim space as their territory  How states compete for territory and negotiate boundaries between each other Concepts Nations (people):  A group of people that share a common cultural trait/feature/identity  Cultural trait can be: o A common mother tongue (ex: Welsh or Basque) o A common ethnic ancestry (ex: Ojibway) o A common religion (ex: Christianity) o A common history (ex: Newfoundland) States (area):  The state is an area (as in a country) and a political institution (as in the authorities)  It has the following characteristics: o It covers a distinct space (the “territory”) o The limits of the territory are defined by boundaries to neighbouring states o The territory is ruled by one government that exercise power over the territory and those that live within it Key facts about “state” 1. There can be no state without a defined territory where its law are enforced 2. There can be no state without a set of laws 3. There can be no state without a population that enforces and follows the laws Stateless Nations:  Nations that do not currently have a state of their own  Examples include: o The Basque living in Northern Spain and Southern France want to form their own state o Kurds living is dispersed across Turkey, Iraq, and Syria – pushing for a sovereign state to be carved out of northern Iraq o An example of a successful attempt by a stateless nation to establish territorial sovereignty is the creation of Israel in 1948 Nation-State:  An ideal form consisting of a homogeneous group of people governed by their own state  NOTE: there are few “true” nation-states  Example of “true” nation-states are Japan, Iceland, Slovenia, and Portugal Multi-National States:  Where a state’s population is formed by two or more distinct nations  Examples include: o Belgium – shared between French-speaking Walloons in the south, Dutch- speaking Flemings in the north, and a German-speaking minority in the east o Switzerland – incorporates speakers of German, French, and Italian o Great Britain – comprises English, Scots, Welsh, Cornish and the inhabitants of Northern Ireland o Canada – population is made of at least three nations The Politics of Territory and Space  The territorial or spatial morphology of states o Main idea  size and shape may greatly contribute to a state’s ability or inability to secure its unity, its survival, and its potential for economic and political development  Other important factors: o Location (land-locked state vs. coastal state) o Location (temperate, tropical, or arctic climate) o Location (geographically active zone i.e. earthquake) o Location (next to an overpowering neighbor?)  Forces determining the stability of states 1. Centripetal forces: are those that tend to keep a state together and strengthen its unity and cohesion o Extensive and strong transportation and communication infrastructure o Common language, religion, history, traditions, or customs o Strong central institutions o Strong ethnic identity 2. Centrifugal forces: are those that tend to keep a state together and strengthen its unity and cohesion o Weak transportation and communication infrastructure o Lack of common languages, religion, history, traditions, or customs o Weak central institutions o A multitude of ethnic groups among the population o Regionalism or regional inequalities o Separatist movements Boundaries and Frontiers  Boundaries  lines that separate states from each other  What is the importance of international boundaries? 1. They separate states from each other to avoid conflict over the extent of territorial space 2. They establish how far the territorial authority of a state extends  Boundaries can be physical or cultural in character o Physical or Natural Boundaries:  A river (…but has problems – can dry up)  A mountain range (environment can change) o Cultural or Artificial Boundaries:  Religious boundaries  Language boundaries Geometric boundary: o Straight lines or arcs that have been drawn on a map and then transferred to the real landscape 1. Antecedent boundaries: o Those that exist
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