GEOPOLITICS OF HUMAN
Let’s go Beyond Prejudice And Charm
Till fifty years ago, geopolitics was considered as a
Nazi discipline and therefore execrated
Nowadays, it is a considered as a magical word, as
“The discipline” that can explain everything that
is beyond common rationality and understanding;
huge interests and macro-politics
For us it is just a methodology that can help us in
understanding and explaining complex
GEOPOLITICS AND GLOBALISATION
«La géopolitique c’est la science de l’État comme
organisme géographique ou comme entité dans
l’espace : c'est-à-dire l’État comme pays, territoire,
domaine ou, plus caractéristique, comme règne.»
Johan Kjellén (1864 – 1922)
Geopolitics: geography contributes largely in the
definition of national interests -> the constant
factors in foreign policy
Globalisation: the world is interconnected ->
local events may have global consequences and
vice versa. The horizon is always the globe
Homo Politicus / Space
Space at the centre: how space is affecting
human life on individual and collective level?
What’s space? Territory with its resources and
constraints (routes and blockages). Geopolitics
investigates on how territory and power are
What’s Homo Politicus? Human beings perceived
as social animals, i.e. animals that live together
in a certain time and space and produce rules
and norms to prevent and/or manage conflicts.
HOW SPACE IS CHANGING?
Globalisation: with the acceleration of flows of
people, goods and information someone has
declared the “death of space”.
In the ’80s and ’90s nation-states and frontiers
have been defied by the globalisation of world
economy and several ethnic wars, but they finally
Relativity theory: A. Einstein demonstrated that
time and space are not absolute measures of
reality but a continuum: “timespace”, that
depends on the observer
In physics and
space or Minkowski
spacetime (named after the
Hermann Minkowski) is the
mathematical setting in
which Einstein's theory of
special relativity is most
conveniently formulated. In
this setting the three
ordinary dimensions of
space are combined with a
single dimension of time to
form a four-dimensional
manifold for representing a
THE DEATH OF SPACE?
revolution has meant a drastic
reduction of time and costs of transfer and
transportation of infos, people and
This has favoured delocalisation of
production, international dependency and
By contrast, proliferation of regional trade
blocs (Nafta, Europe, Japan-Asia) shows
that space is still relevant for
international relations and multinational
International relations: between States,
formalised by treaties and bilateral on
Transnational relations: network of horizontal
links between groups or non-state actors:
ethnic / religious / linguistic groups,
« FADING STATES »?
nation-states’ sovereignty threaten
by the globalisation of economic
Surely nation-states have to re-think and
re-define their roles and powers: domestic
and foreign policies are more and more
Financial flows (small States viability, Kosovo,
Representing data on maps may help in
interpreting events and imaging future
GEOGRAPHY OF POLITICS
Geographical distribution of resources and people
Access to resources
Flows and chokepoints
Integrating time and space into a map
sources (Geographer / historian /
anthropologist) > Collaborative Mapping
GPS – Global Positioning System
« causes »?
Facilitating conflicts resolution
Evaluating region potentialities
Defining regional strategies / foreign policies
more easily problems and conflicts arising
in their daily work.
A deeper knowledge of the area will you to develop
new partnerships and cooperation initiatives.
GEOPOLITICS: A METHODOLOGY
What’s a map?
tool for representing reality or a tool for
A tool for controlling the space or to discover it?
The maps we have today are the result of a long
historical and cultural process: from the
Babylonian tablet to the Mercator map.
As the first historical examples of maps show:
the representation of the “known” space depends
on the “knowledge” of the authors and his beliefs.
BABYLONIAN WORLD MAP:
Imago mundi: geography or cosmology?
BABYLONIAN WORLD MAP
Imago mundi: geography or cosmology?
Babylonian, about 700-500 BCProbably from
Sippar, southern Iraq
Babylon is shown in the centre (the rectangle
in the top half of the circle), and Assyria, Elam
and other places are also named. The central
area is ringed by a circular waterway labelled
'Salt-Sea'. The outer rim of the sea is
surrounded by what were probably originally
eight regions, each indicated by a triangle,
labelled 'Region' or 'Island', and marked with
the distance in between.
The regions are shown as triangles since that
was how it was visualized that they first would
look when approached by water.
The map is sometimes taken as a serious
example of ancient geography, but although
the places are shown in their approximately
correct positions, the real purpose of the
map is to explain the Babylonian view of
the mythological world.
BABYLONIAN WORLD MAP:
Geography Or Cosmology?
8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he
put the man he had formed.
9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground— trees
that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden
were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated
into four headwaters.
11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of
Havilah, where there is gold.
12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)
13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land
14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of
Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
Bible, Genesis, 2 (8 – 14)
Why drawing a map?
Anaximander most likely drew this map for three
First, it could be used to improve navigation and trade
between Miletus's colonies and other colonies around
the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea.
Second, Thales (his master) would probably have
found it easier to convince the Ionian city-states to join
in a federation in order to push the Median threat away
if he possessed such a tool.
Finally, the philosophical idea of a global
representation of the world simply for the sake of
knowledge was reason enough to design one.
ERATOSTHENES OF CYRENE (276195 BC)
Eratosthenes of Cyrene (276-195 BC) was a Greek
mathematician, elegiac poet, athlete, geographer,
astronomer, and music theorist. He was the first person
to use the word "geography" and invented the
discipline of geography as we understand it. He also
created a map of the world based on the available
geographical knowledge of the era.
He made several discoveries and inventions including a
system of latitude and longitude. He was the first person to
calculate the circumference of the earth by using a
measuring system using stades, or the length of stadiums
during that time period. He was the third chief
librarian of the Great Library of Alexandria (sources)
Alexander III of Macedon (356–323 BC), popularly known
as Alexander the Great
CLAUDIUS PTOLEMAEUS (90-168 AD)
Claudius Ptolemaeus (90-168 AD), known as Ptolemy, was
a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a
mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer and a
Ptolemy’s Geographia is a compilation of what was known
about the world's geography in the Roman Empire during
his time, he relied somewhat on the work of an earlier
He assigned coordinates to all the places and geographic
features he knew, in a grid that spanned the globe.
Maps based on scientific principles had been made since
the time of Eratosthenes (3rd century BC), but Ptolemy
The Tabula Rogeriana, drawn by Muhammad al-Idrisi for Roger II of Sicily in 1154.
First example of scientific collection of information from
Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi al-Hasani al-Sabti
or simply Al-Idrisi (1099–1165 or 1166) was an Andalusian
geographer, cartographer, and traveller who lived in Sicily, at the
court of King Roger II. He was born in the North African city of
Ceuta (Sabtah) then belonging to the Almoravid Empire and died
Al Idrisi was a descendent of the Idrisid rulers of Morocco, who in
turn were descendants of Hasan bin Ali, the son of Ali and the
grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad
Al-Idrisi, produced his medieval atlas Tabula Rogeriana in 1154.
He incorporated the knowledge of Africa, the Indian Ocean and
the Far East, gathered by Arab merchants and explorers with the
information inherited from the classical geographers to create the
most accurate map of the world up until his time.
MERCATOR’S WORLD MAP
Rumold's world map, drawn in 1587 after his father's map of 1567
(published in 1595)
GERARDUS MERCATOR (1512-1594)
Gerardus Mercator was a Flemish cartographer. He was
born in Rupelmonde in the County of Flanders. He is
remembered for the Mercator projection world map,
which is named after him. "Mercator" is the Latinized form
of his name and it means "merchant".
Despite Mercator's fame as a cartographer, his main source
of income came through his craftsmanship of
mathematical instruments. He was skilful in
Mercator took the word atlas to describe a collection of
maps, and encouraged Abraham Ortelius to compile the
first modern world atlas --Theatrum Orbis Terrarum -- in
1570. He produced his own atlas in a number of parts, the
first of which was published in 1578 and consisted of
corrected versions of the maps of Ptolemy
Shifting paradigm in peace and security
As far more people have been killed by their own governments or
by famine and epidemics than by foreign armies during the last
100 years, international organisations working for security, like NATO,
UN and the European Union, now consider the security of individuals
rather than states as their main concern
The first formal definition proposed by the Pakistani economist Dr.
Mahbub ul-Haq in 1994
Protecting civilians from their own governments, a narrow
interpretation of human security, has been claimed as the main reason to
intervene in domestic conflicts such as Libya at the current time and the
Balkans back in the ’90s.
More widely, human security is the combination of threats associated with
war, genocide, and the displacement of populations and its main focus is
not defending borders from external military threats, but rather
concerning itself with the security of individuals. Human security and
national security should be, and often are, mutually reinforcing. However
secure States do not automatically mean secure peoples and
secure people does not mean secure States.
Human security Vs. traditional security
Form of Security
The Object of Protection
The integrity and safety of the
The safety and freedom of the
Inter-state war and foreign
Human rights violations Conflicts,
violence and repression
Source: UNDP, Arab Human Development Report 2009, page
What is actually changing
Including the aforementioned human security
definition in the analysis means looking at
consequences on individuals of traditional
geopolitical issues, and recent events in Arab
countries have proven the pertinence, while
assessing threats, of widening the scope of the
analysis to include factors such as:
Original definition: 1994
In the original definition published in 1994 Dr. Mahbub ul Haq
argued that the scope of global security should be expanded to
include threats in seven areas:
security requires an assured basic income for
individuals, usually from productive and remunerative work or, as a
last resort, from a publicly financed safety net. Unemployment
problems constitute an important factor underlying political
tensions and ethnic violence.
security requires that all people at all times have both
physical and economic access to basic food. Quite often the
problem is the poor distribution of food and a lack of purchasing
security aims to guarantee a minimum protection from
diseases and unhealthy lifestyles that are due to malnutrition and
insufficient access to health services, clean water and other basic
Original definition 1994
Environmental security aims to protect people from the shortand long-term ravages of nature, man-made threats in nature,
and deterioration of the natural environment. In developing
countries, lack of access to clean water resources is one of the
greatest environmental threats. Global warming, caused by the
emission of greenhouse gases, is another environmental security
Personal security aims to protect people from physical violence,
whether from the state or external states, from violent individuals
and sub-state actors, from domestic abuse, or from predatory
Community security aims to protect people from the loss
of traditional relationships and values and from sectarian
and ethnic violence.
Political security is concerned with whether people live in a
society that honours their basic human and civic rights.
Moreau Defarges, Philippe; Introduction à la géopolitique,
Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1994.
Fuller, Graham & Lesser, Ian; A Sense a Siege: the
Geopolitics of Islam and the West, Rand, 1995Ayubi, Nazih
N.; Over-stating the Arab State, London, I.B. Tauris, 1995.
Anderson, Benedict; Imagined Communities,
Halliday, Fred; The Middle East in International Relations:
power, politics and ideology, Cambridge, Cambridge
University Press, 2005.
Hoeber Rudolph, Susan & Piscatori, James; Transnational
Religion and Fading States, Boulder, Westview Press,
Mandaville, Peter; Transnational Muslim Politics:
Reimagining the Umma, London, Routeledge, 2003.
Kepel, Gilles; Jihad: expansion et declin de l’islamisme,
Paris, Gallimard, 2000.
Vatikiotis, P.J.; Islam and the State, London, Croom Helm,