Political Geography


Political geography as a sub-discipline of geography is concerned with the study of political space of geographical space. In other words, it studies those structures and phenomena which are intertwined with politics, and those processes and the ways in which political processes are themselves affected by spatial structures. Conventionally, for the purposes of analysis, political geography adopts a three-scale structure with the study of the state at the center, the study of international relations (or geopolitics) above it, and the study of localities below it. The primary concerns of this sub-discipline can be summarized as the inter-relationship between people, state, and territory. Political geography has extended the scope of traditional political science approaches by acknowledging that the exercise of power is not restricted to states and bureaucracies, but is part of everyday life. This has resulted in the concerns of political geography increasingly overlapping with those of other human geography sub-disciplines such as economic geography, and, particularly, with those of social and cultural geography in relation to the study of the politics of place. Contemporary political geography often considers spatial and temporal domains, spatial feelings and bondage, patriotism and citizenship, states, borders, capitals, central places, local governments, regional political-spatial structures, geopolitical territories, crisis geographic spaces, spatial actions on different scales, dynamics of space and politics, spatial manifestations of interaction of politics and geography, spatial patterns of voters and elections, domains of division, national divisions, political organization and arrangement of space, space policy management, geography and national strategy, tourism, peace and security, environment, international migration, regional and global systems etc. Therefore, the philosophical basis of political geography concerns the places, spaces, and phenomena created by the merging of geography and politics. In other words, political geography and its relevant sub-disciplines study those spatial / geographical constructions and phenomena that have political value, political identity or political function. That part of the political geography which is linked to the component of power, that is to say, the interaction of geography, politics and power, falls within the realm of 'geopolitics' a sub-discipline of political geography. The development of such studies and the discovery of rules and modeling of the interrelationship between political-spatial variables can pave the way for the application of geopolitical science and geopolitics in the field of administration and foreign relations, in particular, the optimal allocation and management of political and geographical spaces (countries, political / spatial units within the country, cities and central places, borders, etc.) as well as domestic and national security of countries and foreign relations with other countries. Also, the geographic analysis of global and regional developments and crises, and an understanding of the nature and state of the state's political behavior at the national, regional and global levels, and their divergence and convergence, in terms of geographical and spatial origins are issues which can be handled by political geographers.
The term 'political geography' dates back to mid-18th century, when Robert Jacques Turgot, a French philosopher, geographer and politician, used it in the title of a book in 1751 at Sorbonne University, the second use of this term was by German philosopher and geographer, Immanuel Kant who conceptualized this term at the University of Konigsberg in 1757. Then this science was developed by the actions and works of scientists such as German political geographer Friedrich Ratzel in the late 19th century. At present, political geography in the world is considered as an independent academic discipline or as a branch of human geography. In Iran, political geography was developed and recognized as an academic discipline after the Islamic Revolution. The first Ph.D. students in political geography were admitted as a branch of human geography in 1988 by Tarbiat Modares University. Therefore, the first doctorate program in Political Geography was launched at TMU in cooperation with professors such as Dr. Dare Mirheydar, Dr. Ezatollah Ezzati and Dr. Hussein Shokouee. The first doctorate students were Mohammad Reza Hafeznia and Yadollah Karimipour, Mr. Hafeznia was the first graduate of this field of study who managed to defend his doctoral dissertation entitled 'Strategic Role of Hormoz Strait' in Feb. 1991.
The curriculum of political geography was prepared by Tarbiat Modares University in 1992 and was approved and communicated by the Supreme Planning Council. Tarbiat Modares University also prepared and proposed Ph.D. Curriculum for an independent political geography program which was ratified in 19.4.1998 by the Supreme Planning Council. Therefore, the Department of Geography at Tarbiat Modares University can be considered as the origin of political geography in Iran as an independent field at both Ph.D. and masters levels. The political geography department gained autonomy from the Department of Geography at the Faculty of Humanities and was established as an independent department in December 2014. Dr. Mohammad Reza Hafeznia was appointed as the first head of political geography department by a TMU chancellor.