The Baltic Region

2019 Vol. 11 №2

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The development of poli­tical geography and geopolitics as an academic and research discipline in the Baltic re­gion: the historical contribution of Saint Petersburg University



In this article, we address the little-researched and complicated problems of the genesis, periodisation, and development of political geography and geopolitics as academic and re­search disciplines across the Baltic region in general and the contribution of Saint Peters­burg University in particular. The terms ‘political geography,’ ‘geopolitics’ and the corre­sponding academic disciplines, as well as the first concepts of political geography and geo­politics, emerged in the Baltic. The Russian and German schools of thought made a valuable contribution to these fields of research. Using the historical, structural-genetic, and activity-geospace approaches, we identify and analyse the major historical, research, and academic paradigms in the development of political geography. In doing so, we consider the case of Saint Petersburg University. These paradigms (state-descriptive, anthropogeographical, state-geopolitical, and activity-societal) differ in their methodological frameworks and the­matic priorities. We demonstrate that the term ‘political geography’ and the science it de­notes are of Russian origin, having been developed by German scientists during their aca­demic service for Russia. Further, we analyse the contribution of German and Russian re­searches to the development of the Saint Petersburg school of political geographic and geo­political thought and describe its current state.