A New Approach to the History of Political Geography in the World

Document Type : Original Article


- Full Professor of Political Geography, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran


Political geography is one of the specialized branches of geography that is concerned with the study of the mutual relationship between politics, geography and resulting phenomena. In other words, the political dimension of space is the pivotal subject-matter of political geography. The dominant view regarding the origin, the foundation and the founder of political geography in different references is that it dates back to the end of 19th century, simultaneous with the publication of Politische Geographie byFriedrich Ratzel. But the research of the author shows that political geography as a scientific discipline has a long history and is named and conceptualized by others before Friedrich Ratzel.
This study was carried out with the question of: by whom and on what date political geography was named and conceptualized for the first time? Three people, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot philosopher, political economist and politician of the 18th century in France, Immanuel Kant famous philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment in Germany, and Friedrich Ratzel a German biologist and geographer were said to be the leading figures. With regard to the claims, three people at three different places were known as founders of political geography, which made the judgment difficult as to the history and the founder of political geography.
The research was done through library method and studying original documents in Germany and France, relating to the three figures mentioned. The findings showed that Turgot, by writing a book plan on the subject at Sorbonne University, conceptualized and used the term Political Geography (Geographie Politique) for the first time in 1751. Also, Kant conceptualized and used the term Political Geography (Politische Geographie) for the first time at Konigsberg University in Germany in 1757. Friedrich Ratzel also compiled and published the first book entitled: Politische Geographie, but on the subject of State in 1897 at the University of Leipzig, Germany. The author could investigate and judge on the foundation and conceptualization of political geography and propose his own theory regarding its foundation history, its founder and their share in political geography’s thought.
Research findings, based on documents, show that the theory which claims that Ratzel is the founder of political geography is not valid and is rejected. Turgot, the French philosopher, is the founder of the political geography in 1751, and at the same time Immanuel Kant used and conceptualized political geography in the second half of the 18th century. Friedrich Ratzel published the first scientific and modern book with the title of “political geography” about the State and country. So, based on documents, political geography is founded by Turgot in 1751, as well as Kant in 1757. However, this theory can be challenged by finding older documents.


Volume 10, Issue 33
March 2015
Pages 1-36
  • Receive Date: 30 July 2013
  • Revise Date: 24 September 2013
  • Accept Date: 12 March 2014
  • First Publish Date: 21 March 2014