A 2023 Choice Reviews Outstanding Academic Title
Geopolitics is not dead, but nor does it involve the same old logic of a world determined by physical geography in a competition between Great Powers. Hidden Geopolitics recaptures the term to explore how the geography of power works both globally and nationally to structure and govern the workings of the global political economy. Globalization, far from its antithesis, is tightly wound up in the assumptions and practices of geopolitics, relating to the scope of regulatory authority, state sponsorship, and the political power of businesses to operate worldwide. Agnew shows how this “hidden” geopolitics and globalization have been vitally connected. He focuses on three moments: the origins of contemporary globalization in the policies pursued by successive US governments and allies after 1945 and its continued relevance even as the US role in the world changes; the close connection between geopolitical history and status of different countries and their relative capacities to exploit the possibilities and limit the costs of globalization; and new regulatory and standard-setting agencies which emerged under the sponsorship of major geopolitical powers but have grown in power and authority as the dominant states have become limited in their ability to manage the explosion of transnational transactions on their own.
Agnew argues that it is time to move on from the narrow inter-imperial cast of geopolitics and the foolish policy advice it produces. The old perspective on geopolitics has taken on new life with the rise of national-populist movements in Europe and the United States and the reinvigoration of territorial-authoritarian regimes in Russia and China. Notwithstanding this trend, we must see the contemporary world through the lens of these complex, “hidden” geopolitical underpinnings that Agnew seeks to expose.
John Agnew is Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. A native of Cumbria in England, he has taught at a number of US, Canadian, and European universities. A Fellow of the British Academy, in 2019 he received the Vautrin Lud Prize, the highest academic award for the field of geography. As well as being the founding editor of Territory, Politics, Governance, he is on numerous editorial boards including the Review of International Political Economy, International Political Sociology, and the European Journal of International Relations. For 2008-9 he was President of the American Association of Geographers and he is currently President of the Regional Studies Association. He is the author of numerous books including Hegemony: The New Shape of Global Power (2005), Globalization and Sovereignty: Beyond the Territorial Trap (2017), and Mapping Populism: Taking Politics to the People (with M. Shin 2019).
What is Geopolitics?
Hidden Geopolitics is Not New
The Logic of the Book
PART I: HIDDEN GEOPOLITICS
Chapter 1: Geopolitics in a Globalized World
Geopolitics versus Globalization
Geopolitics of Globalization
Geopolitics of Development
Geopolitics of Regulation
Consequences for Hidden Geopolitics
Chapter 2: Beyond Territorial Geopolitics
The United States from the Perspective of Land- versus Sea- Powers
Hegemony versus Empire
Globalization and the Current Global Geopolitical Order
US Hegemony and the Roots of Globalization
Chapter 3: Making the Strange Familiar
Geographical Analogy and Familiarization
Why Balkan Analogies?
The Two Examples: Macedonian Syndrome and Balkanization
PART II: GEOPOLITICS OF GLOBALIZATION
Chapter 4: The Asymmetric Border: The US Place in the World and the Refugee Panic of 2018
The US Place in the World and the Asymmetric Border
The US Refugee Panic of 2018
The US Immigration “Debate”
Chapter 5: Putting China in the World
“Familiar” Analogies and the Limited Geographic Origins of Thinking about World Politics
The Making and the Travels of Dominant Perspectives on World Politics
China’s Hidden Geopolitics
Chinese Narratives on World Politics
The Politics of the Narratives about World Politics
PART III: GEOPOLITICS OF DEVELOPMENT
Chapter 6: Territorial Politics after the Financial Crisis
The Geography of the 2007-8 Financial Crisis
Spatial Uncertainties of Contemporary Governance
World Cities versus State Territories
Devolution to Local and Regional Governments
Chapter 7: Anti-Federalist Federalism
Dualism versus Polyphony in Federal Governance
Donald Trump and National-Populism
The Retreat of the Federal Government since the 1980s
The Spatial Paradox of Trump’s “Populism” and the Covid-19 Pandemic
PART IV: GEOPOLITICS OF GLOBAL REGULATION
Chapter 8: Global Regulation
The Rise of Credit-Rating Agencies in Rating Sovereign Debt
How Are Ratings Done?
Private Authority and State Sovereignty
Chapter 9: Managing the Eurozone Crisis
Popular Accounts of the Eurozone Crisis
Analyzing the Eurozone Crisis
What is Ordnungspolitik?
The Limits of Ordnungspolitik in Variegated Capitalism
The Territorial Mismatch Thesis and the Eurozone Crisis
PART V: HIDDEN NO MORE?
Chapter 10: Conclusion
About the Author
This book represents the latest effort by one of the leading political geographers of his generation and the winner of two Choice Outstanding Academic Title awards. This current work does not disappoint. Agnew ably elucidates the less obvious (hence “hidden”) financial, cultural, regulatory, and developmental dimensions of interstate interactions in the post-1990 era of globalization. He brings into focus the often-neglected forces operating outside the military and diplomatic competitions among states.. Readers at all levels will benefit from the shift in Agnew’s focus away from the strictly territorial definitions of geopolitics and toward the multifarious, often hidden transnational and global interconnections and networks underlying the dynamics of the contemporary world. Highly recommended. Undergraduates through faculty; professionals; general readers.
Hidden Geopolitics rejects simplistic dichotomies between state and non-state actors, between geopolitics and globalization. It is a nuanced and helpful exploration of ways to analyze and grapple with an ever more complex world.
I have been a strong proponent of taking territory seriously in the contemporary world. But that does not mean that we should ignore the ways in which territorial arrangements and the networks, flows, and assemblages associated with globalization are intertwined. Hidden Geopolitics makes a compelling case for their interpenetration. Drawing on different facets of his rich scholarly oeuvre, John Agnew has developed an account of remarkable historical and geographical depth that offers telling insights into how often-underappreciated geographical extensions of power have shaped, and continue to shape, the world in which we live.
At the moment the news is simultaneously filled with both the ‘Great Power’ ambitions of Russia to re-gain a sphere of influence lost since the Cold War, as well as the importance of the SWIFT banking transfer network in the West’s subsequent choking off of the Russian economy. Agnew’s treatise on hidden geopolitics, existing between the national and the global, could not be more timely in thinking through contemporary geopolitics.
Timely and incisive, Agnew once again rethinks the field of geopolitics by turning attention away from analysing traditional actors – such as the territorial nation state – to consider instead the wealth of agents and processes involved in global capital flows. Hidden Geopolitics provides a conceptual toolkit to understand the geographical implications of offshore financing and associated illicit and licit flows of money. It will be an essential text for student and researcher alike, advancing our geographical and historical understanding of the making of the world in the 21st century.
This book is an erudite and broad-ranging exploration of the interplay between logics of the territorial state and globalization in varied forms and contexts. John Agnew convincingly argues that our failure to recognize how “territorial determinism” and a “world of flows” coexist has undermined progress toward understanding and managing global political economy. Hidden Geopolitics points toward new realms of interdisciplinary research and should be pre-requisite reading for those seeking to lead states, firms, and varied regulatory agencies in the 21st century.
Hidden Geopolitics is an intellectual tour de force. Agnew brings a distinguished career of critical thinking about space and power to deciphering how contemporary world politics actually works. What we think of as geopolitics -- territorial struggles between great powers -- obscures the hidden and routine deployments of power over space by a great variety of non-state actors. Geopolitics and globalization are not opposites but entwined co-productions. In case studies of US border politics, Chinese narratives, US federalism and credit-rating agencies, Agnew exposes the hidden ways in which geopolitics actually works to produce the messy, turbulent and unjust world politics we experience every day.
John Agnew could not have written a more timely and important book. Writing in the midst of a violent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, we need to understand not just the brutal logics of spatial expansionism and the domination of place but also the hidden and messy entanglements of finance, culture, business, energy, and electoral politics.
Hidden Geopolitics is a tour de force that delivers a clear message: neither globalization nor geopolitics captures the reality of contemporary world politics. We live in an “in-between world” where great powers continue to vie for domination, but meanwhile all sorts of hidden geopolitics determine how the world really works. This is rarely a good thing, but to remedy the system’s faults we must first clearly see the fault lines.
. Describes the historic geopolitical roots of globalization
. Examines the political “hold” of the inter-imperial conception of geopolitics
. Compares and contrasts the US and China as world powers
. Surveys the “hidden geopolitics” revealed by the 2007-8 global financial crisis and the 2020-21 global pandemic
. Argues for a transversal or complex geography of power as opposed to an entirely territorialized one
. Engages with the emerging world order of regulatory activities beyond the control of states