Getting Started with Geopolitical Analysis 1: Dealing with Definitions


Les grands théoriciens de la géopolitiqueAs applies to all kinds of research, definitions are key in Geopolitical Analysis. The noun ‘geopolitics’ and the adjective ‘geopolitical’ are often used without being defined. Books that discuss the possible meanings of this concept are rare.

This makes “Les grands théoriciens de la géopolitique” (“The Great Theoreticians in Geopolitics”) by Florian Louis the more interesting. The book takes a broad approach towards geopolitics and includes thinkers from Classical (e.g. Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman), Critical (i.e. Gearóid Ó Tuathail) and French Geopolitics (i.e. Reclus, Vidal and Ancel).

GéopolitiquesThose who can’t read the whole book may find this review valuable, as it raises key questions. Is geopolitics more about power or about space? Does it concern analysing or doing? Does it academically belong to Geography or Political Sciences? Excellent questions to start any discussion about geopolitics, although an ‘either-or’ debate could better be prevented.

Whether these questions are relevant to your Geopolitical Analysis depends on its objectives. But please keep in mind that the definition of geopolitics does matter. To paraphrase John Armstrong (2004, p. 9): “definitions will, to a great extent, determine the response scholars will bring to the issues posed. The examination of geopolitical phenomena is no exception, although at the start of many research projects, scholars do not recognize this.”


  • Armstrong, John A. (2004), ‘Definitions, periodization, and prospects for the longue duree’, Nations and Nationalism, 10 (1/2), pp. 9-18

Geopolitical Analysis


  1. There are any others books in english or spanish to getting started with geopolitics?

    • Leonhardt van Efferink

      Dear Brenda,
      Thanks for your question. Here’s a list of some books that we use during our Summer Schools on Geopolitical Conflicts Analysis:
      ▪ Guibernau, M. (2007) The identity of nations. Polity Books.
      ▪ Jarvis, K. and Holland, J. (2015) Security. A critical introduction. Palgrave.
      ▪ Smith, M.A. (2012) Power in the changing global order. Polity Books.
      ▪ Storey, D. (2011) Territory. The Claiming of Space. Routledge.
      ▪ Flint, C. (2017) Introduction to Geopolitics. 3nd Edn. Routledge.
      ▪ Gourdin, P. (2010) Géopolitiques. Manuel Pratique. Choiseul.
      ▪ Gray, C. and Sloan, G. (1999) Geopolitics, Geography and Strategy. Cass.
      Please let me know if you have any further questions.
      Kind regards,

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