Sir Halford Mackinder's Heartland: A Help or Hindrance?
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 2-3 December 2004.
2004 marks the centenary of the British geographer Halford Mackinder's
famous 'Geographical Pivot of History' lecture at the Royal Geographical
Society. In it he said that Eurasia, including Central Asia, was
historically "the pivot region of the world's politics". Following its
publication in the Geographical Journal, the address became one of the
founding texts of the geopolitical tradition. It has attracted much
attention from both admirers, who consider Mackinder a prophet of
subsequent geopolitical events and a champion of democracy, and critics who
lambaste him for geo-determinism and imperialism.
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, many political scientists and
geographers, in Central Asia, the UK, the US, and elsewhere have used
Mackinder to analyse Central Asia's place in the inter-state system. This
has coincided with a renewed scholarly interest in Mackinder by geographers
and political scientists. For example, in 2003 the Royal Geographical
Society held a symposium to mark the centenary, and discuss how his ideas
have been used up until today. This symposium highlighted the versatility
and contentiousness of Mackinder's legacy, and also gaps in our knowledge
of how his ideas travelled from the UK to other countries.
These themes will be discussed at an international symposium in Tashkent in
December 2004, one century on from the original lecture. It will be
co-sponsored and hosted by the University of World Economy and Diplomacy
and the Center for Political Studies, and supported by the UK Committee on
Central and Inner Asia.
Possible themes for papers include, but are not limited to:
-Mackinder and the analysis of the foreign policies of Central Asian
states, and the policies of other states towards Central Asia: are his
ideas a help or hindrance?
-The intellectual history of how Mackinder's ideas 'travelled' from London
to Central Asia, for example via the USSR and USA
-Mackinder's moral imperative: empire or democracy?
-the place of Central Asia and Russia in Mackinder's writings
-Mackinder and contemporary international relations
-Practical implications for policy makers and practitioners, in the fields
of foreign relations and civil society.
Although the focus is on Central Asia, proposals for more general papers on
Mackinder will also be welcome.
The languages of the symposium will be English, Uzbek and Russian, and
translation will be available. Before the symposium, Mackinder's 1904 paper
will be translated and made accessible to local participants, and all
participants will be assisted in accessing relevant sections of his later
work (in English).
The symposium format is intended to facilitate genuine discussion and
collaboration between participants. This will be enhanced by giving
foreign speakers the chance to stay as guests in the homes of local
colleagues, and excursions including a 'geopolitical tour' of Tashkent
covering contemporary, Soviet and pre-Soviet periods. There will also be
the option of an excursion to the ancient cities of Bukhara and Samarkand,
the latter being the capital of Tamerlane's Eurasian empire.
The conference fee is US $45, but participation is free for citizens of CIS
countries. For special reductions for students and others, please contact
the organisers. Abstracts of up to 200 words, in Uzbek, English or
Russian, are to be submitted by September 1st 2004.
To submit abstracts, discuss ideas, or to obtain more information, please
Sevara Sharapova, Associate Professor of Political Science, Tashkent State
Institute of Oriental Studies, Uzbekistan. [log in to unmask]
Nick Megoran, Research Fellow in Geography, Sidney Sussex College,
[log in to unmask]