Oceans Rise Empires Fall

After considerable difficulty I have made considerable headway on my current book project. It is an ‘ideas’ book or a theory book but it written to be accessible and is directly relevant to the current moment. The title is Oceans Rise, Empires Fall: Geopolitics on an Earth in Crisis. I expect the book to be published by Oxford University Press toward the end of 2022 if all goes well with the review process.

It has been a struggle to write because how to make the argument wasn’t clear in my head. Thankfully it now is clear and, while there is still some writing to be completed, the outline is set and I can see the end. The book is inspired by the contemporary conjuncture of cascading and intersecting domains of existential risk: climate change in the geophysical sphere, extinctions and pandemic in the geobiophysical sphere, deepening technoscientific risks in the ‘human habitat’ and the possibility of a catastrophic war in the domain of great power competition. It uses the history and different meanings of the concept of geopolitics to explore the current conjuncture.

The book begins with contemporary geopolitical clashes over the South China Sea and transitions to discuss the contested status of ‘geopolitics’ as an object of study between those theorizing the ‘return of Great Power politics’ and those theorizing the rupture of climate change and emergence of the Earth as an active agent in world politics. It then reviews prevailing understandings of geopolitics, then critical geopolitics and then critiques of critical geopolitics before outlining its rationale. Using the writings of Halford Mackinder I explore how classical geopolitics at once recognized and left behind the earthly foundations of great power competition. I argue that Mackinder’s formula for geographical causation in world affairs can and should be re-engineered by critical geopolitics to create a set of concepts for understanding the contemporary moment.

These concepts are ones I have discussed before in my writings but have not explicitly outlined in one volume (I’ve re-thought Geopolitical Condition a bit after considering Schmitt & Beck). This book doesn’t outline them for the sake of exposition but because they help make sense of the present moment of both climate emergency and renewed great power competition. These concept are:

  1. Geopolitical Fields
  2. Geopolitical Cultures
  3. Geospatial Revolutions
  4. Geopolitical Condition

The book has an introduction and six chapters. It should be about 80,000 words in total, so hopefully a book that is less than 300 pages. In theory its done! I just now have to write it!