GEOG 882
Geographic Foundations of Geospatial Intelligence

2.6 Thinking Critically About Geopolitics


We are going to examine the topic of "Geopolitics" as an exercise in applying our frameworks for critical analysis. Political geography is a sub-discipline of human geography and geopolitics is a sub-area of political geography. A number of political geographers including Gearóid Ó Tauthail (Gerard Toal in English), Simon Dalby, John Agnew, and Paul Routledge have applied the previously discussed concepts to geopolitics resulting in a specific approach known as "Critical Geopolitics." We are going to use the textbook The Geopolitics Reader 2nd Edition to examine this topic.

As you read Toal's General Introduction addressing "Thinking Critically about Geopolitics," do some critical thinking and ask yourself:

  • How does the author's approach compare with Painter's ideas both in terms of use of the conceptual ideas of discourse, etc., and his ideas concerning politics?
  • On page five, the author notes that some may charge that the Reader is biased and unbalanced. He then addresses the charge in an interesting way. Why would the author bring this up? What are his background and his agenda in writing this book? (Note that Gerard Toal wrote the seminal work in the field entitled Critical Geopolitics and is a major scholar pioneering this approach.)
  • What are the implications for insights from the critical geopolitics approach for the definition, organization, and applications of geospatial intelligence?

Required Reading

Read Toal's General Introduction addressing "Thinking Critically about Geopolitics" in The Geopolitics Reader 2nd edition. (Pages 1-14) 

Mini Quiz 2.1

After reading Toal's General Introduction addressing "Thinking Critically about Geopolitics," you will need to take the "Thinking Critically about Geopolitics" mini quiz before proceeding. Return to Lesson 02 in Canvas and click on the 2.1 "Thinking Critically about Geopolitics" Mini Quiz link.


  • The mini quiz will not count toward your grade.
  • You must correctly answer all five questions on the mini quiz to gain access to the mini quiz for page 7 of this lesson
  • You may take the mini quiz as many times as you would like.