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Constructing International Politics
Author(s): Alexander Wendt
Reviewed work(s):
Source: International Security, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Summer, 1995), pp. 71-81
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL:
Accessed: 03/01/2012 15:49

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Political geographers of the past VIII
Putting Mackinder in his place
Material transformations and myth
Department  of  Geography,  University of Liverpool,  P.O. Box  147, Liverpool  L69 3BX,  UK

ABSTRACT. As a consequence of the Cold War, Halford Mackinder is best known as a geopolitician and theorist of the heartland. Such an understanding of
Mackinder, it is argued, is a selective appropriation of his ideas and neglects the spatial and historical context within which Mackinder wrote. This paper seeks to
develop an alternative critical understanding of Halford Mackinder as a conservative intellectual in the Age of Empire (18751914), a time of profound
material transformations in Great Britain. Four material transformations are outlined and Mackinder’s relationship to them discussed. The organic
conservative ideology of Mackinder is then described and subjected to critical analysis, It is suggested that Mackinder’s ideology needs to be understood within
the context of a general reaction by traditional aristocratic and aristocratized British elites to industrialization and modernization. Mackinder’s ideology, it is
suggested, was both patriarchal and romantic and not democratic and realist as is supposed by existent readings of his work.