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Title: Geopolitics as a traveling theory : the evolution of geopolitical imagination in Japan, 1925-1945
Author: Watanabe, Atsuko
ISNI:       0000 0004 6351 1676
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis interrogates how geopolitics as a political theory travels inter-regionally in an effort to expand the field of inquiry of critical geopolitics to non-Western states. As a case study, it examines the impact of German geopolitics on Japan during the second quarter of the last century, with a particular focus on the theory of the state as a living organism. Existing studies of critical geopolitics argue that geographical knowledge oppressed local knowledge by discursively actualizing the divided world when it was disseminated all over the world, However, given that critical geopolitical literature on non-Western countries is scarce, there is limited understanding on how classical geopolitics was interpreted in non-Western contexts. Contrastingly to common assumptions, aiming to fill this knowledge gap, this thesis argues that geopolitical knowledge becomes power in a foreign community only when it fits into the vernacular that is embedded in the local landscape. This thesis highlights the role of cognitive gaps that arise between analytical spaces in the course of the travel. In the gaps, the local mode of power mutates the concept without changing its appearance. Seeing intellectuals as a part of the wider community, this thesis unearths the neglected evolution of a traveling theory by thoroughly clarifying the context of the space of interpretation. Thus, it aspires to examine how spatial difference is manifested in International Relations discourses and why and how knowledge is making the world ostensibly one, despite the absence of consensus and therefore unsynthesizable. Japan is a country that is said to have become the first non-Western state by importing a number of European political theories. Analysing scholarly articles and discussions on space and knowledge in Japan, this thesis argues that in Japan, geopolitics helped Japanese people to imagine a different shape of the world. This was a borderless world in which the modern states dissolved into regions. Geopolitical theories supported Japanese government’s attempt to replace the deteriorating European world order of states with a regionalism called the Greater East Asia Co- Prosperity Sphere. In Japanese geopolitical discussions, its environmental determinism tuned into ecological fatalism. Therefore, at least in the first half of the twentieth century, geopolitics was knowledge that rationalized a localized worldview, but not a particular (European) geopolitical tradition, exposing the diversified political practices in world politics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JC Political theory