Empire as a Geopolitical Figure

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This article analyses the ingredients of empire as a pattern of order

with geopolitical effects. Noting the imperial form's proclivity for

expansion from a critical reading of historical sociology, the

article argues that the principal manifestation of earlier geopolitics

lay not in the nation but in empire. That in turn has been driven

by a view of the world as disorderly and open to the ordering will

of empires (emanating, at the time of geopolitics' inception, from

Europe). One implication is that empires are likely to figure in the

geopolitical ordering of the globe at all times, in particular after all

that has happened in the late twentieth century to undermine

nationalism and the national state. Empire is indeed a probable,

even for some an attractive form of regime for extending order

over the disorder produced by globalisation. Geopolitics articulated

in imperial expansion is likely to be found in the present and

in the future - the EU, and still more obviously the USA exhibiting

the form in contemporary guise. This does not mean that empires

figure in geopolitics simply by extending their own order, however;

they are at least as much purveyors of other dynamics and orders,

which possess their own discrete effects. The article ends with stipulations

regarding the variety of forms that empires may take:

neither fully bounded nor centred; neither straightforwardly

self-serving nor easily made legitimate.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)109 - 132
Publication statusPublished - 2010

ID: 17005519