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Title: Global Politics - A New Introduction
Author(s): Jenny Edkins and Maja Zehfuss (eds)
Date of Publication: 2009 Publisher: Routledge
Pages:xxvi + 524 ISBN: 978 0 415 43131 6
Price: Format:Paperback
Target Readership Sen Secondary







Content: 1 – Introduction; 2 - How do we begin to think about the world?; 3 - What happens if we don't think in human terms?; 4 - Who do we think we are?; 5 - How do religious beliefs affect politics?; 6 - Why do we obey?; 7 - How do we find out what's going on in the world?; 8 - Why is people's movement restricted?; 9 - Why is the world divided territorially?; 10 - How does the nation-state work?; 11 - Do colonialism and slavery belong to the past?; 12 - How is the world organised economically?; 13 - Why are some people better off than others?; 14 - How can we end poverty?; 15 - Why do some people think they know what is good for others?; 16 - Why does politics turn to violence?; 17 - What makes the world dangerous?; 18 - What can we do to stop people harming others?; 19 - Can we move beyond conflict?; 20 - Conclusion: what can we do to change the world?

Review: One of the issues with modern geopolitics is how to get the beginner to connect with the subject in a way that makes the necessary concepts more relevant. The more conventional approach is to start with the state and work through the notions of territoriality and the changes of power in time and space. Whilst this does cover the subject it is more difficult to see how current issues, often supra-national in character e.g. global warming, can be accommodated in this structure. This text takes a completely different approach and sets out the contributions not as statements but questions.

The text starts with an introduction highlighting some key political issues and ideas. The most important aspect here is that we are asked to look at issues from a fresh perspective. 'Old' ideas about the world wars are juxtaposed with reports of those who lived through them. Questions about world politics are shown against those whose work informs them. The aim is to re-focus the reader. Chapter two confronts the reader by getting them to consider the notion of torture and what it means from the various perspectives (and how it 'helps' greater understanding in the world). This re-focussing continues in subsequent chapters notably by taking the global (geopolitics) as personal (human-scale), as identity (gender, race etc.) as faith (religion, or, perhaps, not) and as a response to power (obedience and resistance). This makes the seemingly rarified world of politics very personal, suggesting that the greater political world is just the sum of local ideas. To respond to and react with political ideas it is essential that we have the ability to collect and process information. Chapters 7 and 8 explore some of the issues here with the use of information and information control (readily understood in an era of debate on the Internet) and people control i.e. movement restrictions. At this stage in the text the focus shifts from the more personal to wider and more conventional ideas. The first focus is on the idea of territoriality - howand why do we set up territories and what does it mean (chapter 9) and how do we make such systems work (chapter 10)? Assuming that this is the basis for geopolitics i.e. the state is the key political unit, the next task is to explore what happens when the state and its agents move into other areas either as an occupying force e.g. colonialism or as an ideological one e.g. economics. If these forces are allowed free rein then it follows that inequality will result. Chapter 13 focusses on the inequalities within a nation. From this point, the text moves into less useful areas by getting the reader to consider not the divisions of power but the implications and what can/should/might be done about it. There's an implicit ethical stance developed which supposes that the geopolitical world as currently consituted is not working or at least creating as many problems as it purports to solve. In this context, chapters on poverty, paternalism, safety and conflict resolution aim to look at current problems from both a geopolitical and ethical context. The aim is to take the theory out into the practical. A concluding chapter suggests the reader might do something to change the situation.

There's much to like in this text not least the way it is constructed. Despite many contributors, the editors have kept to a tight common format. Chapters open with boxes highlighting the issues of the chapter, examples used to illustrate key ideas and some of the issues raised. Part of the preface was used to create pedagogical and conceptual maps showing how chapters could be related in different ways. Marginal notes and references within chapters confirm and extend this idea. This makes it one of the better organised texts and one where the beginner could easily find their way around the topics. This ease of conceptualisation does mean that more conventional approaches are not covered: bombing German cities is mentioned but not Cohen's geostrategy: Hitler gets coverage but Haushofer does not. Whilst these are relatively minor points (there is only so much space any text can have and always someone's interests are left out!) it does highlight the difference in approach noted at the beginning of this text. Use this book to get people actually thinking and motivated about geopolitics and leave more abstract work until later - it might actually get people thinking and acting which in such times should be seen as a bonus.





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