Thursday, January 16, 2014

GEOG 210: Introduction to Political Geography

11:15A-12:30P   MW     SB 005

Instructor: Majed Akhter (

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 3pm – 5pm in Student Building 204

(or by appointment)


This course explores the dialectic relationship between space, the environment, and politics. Going beyond the headlines, we will explore the deeper meaning of concepts like: territory, sovereignty, borders, the state, war, citizenship, elections, imperialism, and nationalism. The world is changing rapidly - just like the meaning and relevance of these concepts. The objective of this course is to introduce and deepen students’ knowledge regarding geographic approaches to political phenomena. The overarching question that motivates this class is dialectical. This means that the goal is to understand dynamic interactive processes, not merely to describe one-directional cause and effect relationships. How does politics shape the world, and how does the world in turn shape political activity?

Some of the specific questions this class will shed light on are: Is the United States a powerful country because it commands such a large area - or is it so large because it's a powerful country? How and why are drones changing the geographical rules and meaning of warfare? Is the economic and military rise of China and India a threat to the US - or something to be hopeful about? Why are some borders walled and heavily militarized - while others are nothing more than lines on maps? Why are red states red and blue states blue - and are all red states red for the same reason?

By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate command over the core concepts of political geography (e.g., territory, borders, sovereignty), as well as major topics of interest for political geographers (e.g., imperialism, warfare, democracy, citizenship).  The text used in this course deploys a “world-system perspective”, which means that politics is understood with special reference to the global economy. Therefore, by the end of the course, students will also be prepared to contextualize and critique scholarly, policy, and journalistic presentations of international relations, geopolitics, and globalization from a political economic perspective.

Required Textbook: Flint, C. R., & Taylor, P. J. (2011). 6th ed. Political geography: World-economy, nation-state, and locality. Pearson Education.

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