By Gearoid O. Tuathail
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Extra resources for Critical Geopolitics
Indeed, this assumed exceptionalist vision, as we will explore in chapter 4, gave the theory and practice of geopolitics a quasi-religious tone in many cases. Finally, de Certeau notes that not only is the strategic gaze a form of power that transforms the uncertainties of history into readable spaces but that institutional power is a precondition of its operation. Military or scientific strategies, he notes, have always been inaugurated through the constitution of their “own” areas, the “neutral” and “independent” institutions, laboratories, and institutes where strategic observers can perform their “disinterested” research.
They strive toward globality qua totality. Mackinder’s geopolitical gaze is a “setting into perspective” of the competing forces of current international politics. ” It seeks to render the dramatic spectacle of international affairs visible in an allencompassing global way. It is a widening of vision, a broadening of focus beyond the regional or continental scale. This setting into perspective is, second, a steadying of vision, a deliberate construction of a perspectivalist triangle of vision with the sovereign monocular eye/I at its base and the stage/spectacle/ scene of history or international politics at the far wall of the triangle.
The faultline in the structure of the geopolitical gaze, the aporia in its division between the natural (“just is”) and the political (“argue”), is that this very distinction must be transgressed for geopolitics to make sense. The condition of possibility of the geopolitical gaze is also its condition of impossibility. The geographical objects (for example, rivers, mountains, islands, continents, oceans), attributes (for example, size, natural resources, relative location, topography, climate), and patterns (for example, heartland-rimland, East-West, New World-Old World, continental-oceanic, land power-sea power) found in geopolitical scenes are not irreducibly transparent entities but socially constructed signs and systems of signification.
Critical Geopolitics by Gearoid O. Tuathail