Geopolitics and Peace / Geopolitics for Peace Geopolitics


Virginie Mamadouh

On the occasion of the Conference Geographies for peace / Geografías para la paz, organized by the International Geographical Union (IGU-UGI) in La Paz as a preconference to Encuentro de Geografos de América Latina  (XVI EGAL 2017) in April 2017, Geopolitics is publishing a selection of articles on Geopolitics and Peace in a virtual issue to be available for free download through 2017. Although geopolitics is traditionally associated with power politics and waging war, peace has been a theme widely covered in the journal, especially by geographers.

The selected articles addressed peace as more than the absence of war. In the first contribution, published in 1999, Fabrizio Eva discusses the principles underpinning stability and compares peace processes based on equality and those based on inequality in terms of power, economics and rights. Two other early contributions – from a special section on Critical geopolitics after twenty years published in 2008 – focus on the potential of critical geopolitics: Simon Dalby discusses the continued relevance of the approach in a period of re-militarisation of global politics (considering Barnett’s Pentagon’s new Map and Joxe’s Empire of Disorder) while Nick Megoran questions the weak normative engagement of critical geopolitics with the practice of warfare through an examination of Toal’s writings on Iraq and Bosnia and makes a plea for a commitment to nonviolence.

Peace is promoted, negotiated and invoked in many sites. Sean Byrne and his co-authors examined the impact of development aid and peacebuilding initiatives on cross-community contact and reconciliation in Northern Ireland after the Anglo-Irish Agreement (1986) and the Good Friday Agreement (1998). Paul Adams has used trajectories (as constructs in geopolitical discourses) to study Norwegian discourses about the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the American president-elect Barack Obama. Jason Dittmer investigates the humour and laughter in Model United Nations. Ian Klinke and Brice Perombelon have revisited the desecuritisation of the Rhineland frontier between France and Germany after the Second World War. Sara Fregonese and Adam Ramadan have proposed a research agenda into the geopolitics of hotels and the role they play as geopolitical sites. Cadey Korson has researched the role of the media in the framing of UN Peace Keeping Operations (UNPKOs) in Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire. Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra investigates the UN Security Council in Syria and Mali and questions the motives of UNSC members. James Mjelde and his co-authors try to measure the willingness of South Korean citizens to pay for the development of a Peace Park in the Korean Demilitarized zone.

From the critical and feminist perspectives, international relations scholars and geographers have highlighted the relation between peace, security and the everyday. Cynthia Weber discusses the securitisation of the unconscious through an analysis of the science fiction movie Minority Report in light of the doctrine of preemption of President Bush. Sarah Smith approaches  intimacy as a site of geopolitical practice, researching marriage in Ladakh, India to question geopolitical bodies and embodied nations in light of the conflict between Buddhists and Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir. Diana Ojeda explores the making and unmaking of banal spaces of security in tourism in Colombia and the discourses and practices of state securitization in the 2000s. In their contribution to a special section on the geosocial published in 2017, Kathrin Hörschelmann and Elisabeth Reich explore webs of (in)security with marginalised youth in Leipzig (Germany).

This wide diversity of approaches is complemented with a book review by Kerry Burton in which she engages with three recent volumes about geographies and geopolitics of peace and nonviolence: Geographies of peace, a volume edited by Fiona McConnell, Nick Megoran and Philippa Williams (2014), Spaces of Contention: Spatialities and Social Movements, a volume edited by Walter Nicholls, Byron Miller and Justin Beaumont (2014) and Protest Camps, co-authored by Anna Feigenbaum, Fabian Frenzel and Patrick McCurdy (2013) about protest camps in the UK and Europe.