GEOG 128
Geography of International Affairs

The Politics of Networks


Perhaps one of the most common ways people these days understand the concept of networks is to think of the many often-used social networks, like Facebook. While our book doesn't necessarily cover or include social networks in our discussion of geopolitics, it is interesting to think of the ways virtual spaces such as the Facebook networking platform facilitate the organization of individuals into groups of similar interests, political beliefs, etc. Furthermore, it is also interesting to observe the ways in which various terrorist organizations have recently used social networking practices such as hashtagging (#) to draw attention to their cause and intimidate. 

To Read

Please read the following article before completing the blog assignment.

  • (Read Pg. 7-12) The Cyber Longbow and Other Information Strategies: U.S. National Security and Cyberspace by Gary D. Brown, In War in the 21st Century and Collected Works, 5 Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs (2017). (pdf available in Canvas)
  • Friis, S. M. (2015). 'Beyond anything we have ever seen': beheading videos and the visibility of violence in the war against ISIS. International Affairs 91(4), 725-746. (pdf available in Canvas) See author's abstract below:
This article examines the role of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's (ISIS's) beheading videos in the United Kingdom and the United States. These videos are highly illustrative demonstrations of the importance of visual imagery and visual media in contemporary warfare. By functioning as evidence in a political discourse constituting ISIS as an imminent, exceptional threat to the West, the videos have played an important role in the re-framing of the conflict in Iraq and Syria from a humanitarian crisis requiring a humanitarian response to a national security issue requiring a military response and intensified counterterrorism efforts. However, this article seeks to problematize the role and status of ISIS's beheadings in American and British security discourses by highlighting the depoliticizing aspects of reducing a complicated conflict to a fragmented visual icon. The article concludes by emphasizing the need for further attention to how the visibility of war, and the constitution of boundaries between which acts of violence are rendered visible and which are not, shape the political terrain in which decisions about war and peace are produced and legitimized. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

We will go into further details on the politics of networks, but it is important to start thinking about the power of networks in your life and at multiple scales. Indeed, our political, social, cultural, religious, and economic networks fill (and perhaps fulfill) our daily interactions.