The troubled historiography of classical boundary terminology

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Title: The troubled historiography of classical boundary terminology
Authors: Rankin, K. J.
Schofield, Richard N.
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Date: 2004
Abstract: This paper seeks to explore the evolution and mutation of terms and concepts in boundary studies. It re-examines the context and actual letter of some items of classical boundary terminology, developed largely within the half-century period fol-lowing the appearance of Friedrich Ratzel’s Politische Geographie in 1897. While traditional political geography’s coverage of territorial questions was substantial, the conventional wisdom holds that, in academic terms at least, it was far from enlightened—and has justifiably been criticised for its lack of objectivity, imagination and focus. Yet to dismiss the contributions of this period collectively as negative and deterministic is clearly too simplistic. Many individuals were more far-sighted than is generally recognised—Ratzel himself identified the essential premise of borderland studies some 70 years before it was developed more fully when commenting: “der Grenzraum ist das Wirkliche, die Grenzlinie die Abstraktion davon”. The pioneering attempts made to develop a specialised vocabulary for the study of international boundaries and territorial questions have not always been represented accurately or fairly by academics and policy makers. Ideas, good and bad, have been distorted through phraseology, poor translation and simple errors and corrupted for political means—in the latter instance, particularly the pursuit of questionable analogies and ideals, such as the living state organism and natural boundaries. This paper re-examines the rudiments of early territorial conceptions, while acknowledging the historical paradigms in which they originated
Funding Details: Not applicable
Type of material: Working Paper
Publisher: University College Dublin. Institute for British-Irish Studies
Copyright (published version): The authors, 2004
Keywords: Friedrich RatzelPolitische GeographieBoundary studiesBorderland
Subject LCSH: Boundaries--Terminology
Political geography
Territory, National--Terminology
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Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Conference Details: Revised version of a paper presented at the 30th congress of the International Geographical Union, Glasgow, Scotland, 15-20 August 2004
Appears in Collections:Institute for British-Irish Studies (IBIS) Working Papers and Policy Papers

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