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Putting Geopolitics in its Place: Gibraltar and the emergence of strategic locations

Dittmer, J; (2021) Putting Geopolitics in its Place: Gibraltar and the emergence of strategic locations. Political Geography , 88 , Article 102405.

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Abstract

Gibraltar has long been understood as a strategic location. In this paper I examine the historical emergence of this seemingly common-sense fact, turning to the rise of relational geography and assemblage thinking to re-theorise the idea of ‘strategic locations.’ I argue that the ‘unchanging truth’ of geography as asserted by (neo)classical geopolitical authors is always in fact becoming-otherwise, as shifts in the compositional assemblages (e.g., military-technological systems, logistical networks, domestic politics) can ripple through the place in question, very quickly making strategic places un-strategic again, or vice-versa. People and ideas are central to this emergence, as are place-based materialities such as terrain, technologies, and even micro-climates. Empirically I examine first the emergence of Gibraltar within an English/British cartographic and visual apparatus in the 17th century. I then turn to the materiality of the Strait of Gibraltar and the specific agency of the eponymous Rock, as they both interact with various shifts in military technology and the organisation of empire. I conclude with a call for an assemblage approach to place in geopolitics, highlighting the advantages of such an approach.

Type: Article
Title: Putting Geopolitics in its Place: Gibraltar and the emergence of strategic locations
Publisher version: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/political-geogra...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10125909
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