American Empire: Roosevelt's Geographer and the Prelude to by Neil Smith

By Neil Smith

An American Empire, developed over the past century, some time past overtook ecu colonialism, and it's been broadly assumed that the recent globalism it espoused took us "beyond geography." Neil Smith debunks that assumption, delivering an incisive argument that American globalism had a unique geography and used to be pieced jointly as a part of a strong geographical imaginative and prescient. the facility of geography didn't die with the twilight of ecu colonialism, however it did switch essentially. That the inauguration of the yank Century introduced a lack of public geographical sensibility within the usa used to be itself a political symptom of the rising empire. This ebook presents an essential geographical-historical context for knowing the facility and bounds of up to date globalization, which may now be obvious as representing the 3rd of 3 special ancient moments of U.S. worldwide ambition.The tale unfolds via a decisive account of the occupation of Isaiah Bowman (1878-1950), the main well-known American geographer of the 20 th century. for almost 4 a long time Bowman operated round the vortex of country energy, operating to carry an American order to the worldwide panorama. An explorer at the well-known Machu Picchu day trip of 1911 who got here to be recognized first as "Woodrow Wilson's geographer," and later as Frankin D. Roosevelt's, Bowman was once current on the production of U.S. liberal overseas coverage. A quarter-century later, Bowman used to be on the middle of Roosevelt's country division, occupied with the disposition of Germany and heightened U.S. entry to eu colonies; he was once defined through Dean Acheson as a key "architect of the United Nations." In that interval he was once a pace-setter in American technological know-how, served as president of Johns Hopkins college, and have become an early and vociferous chilly warrior. a sophisticated, contradictory, and from time to time arguable determine who used to be a great deal within the public eye, he seemed at the hide of Time journal. Bowman's profession as a geographer in an period whilst the price of geography was once deeply puzzled offers a distinct window into the contradictory makes use of of geographical wisdom within the development of the yank Empire. Smith's ancient excavation unearths, in huge strokes but with vigorous aspect, that latest American-inspired globalization springs no longer from the Eighties yet from past moments in 1919 and 1945, either one of which resulted in failure. by means of recharting the geography of this heritage, Smith brings the politics--and the limits--of modern globalization sharply into concentration.

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29 An arch-anticommunist, Mackinder would have been horrified by the parallels between Lenin’s relational geography of capitalist expansion and his own. But Mackinder too was prescient. His notions of an “explosion of social forces” reverberating around the world and the “shattering” of weak elements in the global system anticipate not just World War I but also Lenin’s own revolution in Russia. The grammar of global power in this period was indisputably geographical, but the relevance of geography to social, economic, and political change was changing fundamentally.

Absolute space” refers to space conceived as a given field of action; natural and social events and processes happen “in space,” and their location can be measured according to some kind of coordinate system. Philosophically, absolute space derives from Descartes and Kant among others; in practical terms it can be thought of as the space of private property, national territoriality. It is the space of Newtonian physics and of national state making alike, the space of nineteenth-century European expansion and colonization as well as Euclidean geometry.

Precisely because geography was everything—the American Century was global—it was simultaneously nothing. The American Century, therefore, was premised on a quite opposite connection between geography and political economy vis-à-vis that which drove the European empires and fueled European geographical traditions. European attention to local and global geographies was integral to strategies of territorial expansion in a way that no longer applied to the United States lost geography of the american century / 19 in the mid-twentieth century.

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