Mackinder Forum Virtual Seminar #50: Professor Geoff Sloan, “Down to Earth: The Geopolitical Realities of the United Kingdom”

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On February 20, 2022, Professor Geoff Sloan, Coordinator, Mackinder Forum-UK, delivered a talk on “Down to Earth: The Geopolitical Realities of the United Kingdom.”

Abstract: The United Kingdom as the name implies is the sum of a number of separate historical entities. In terms of European state formation this is not unique; rather the name highlights the point that nation states are not natural entities. There is no such thing as a natural state. Furthermore, geography, as Colin Gray claimed, is not political destiny. States come into being and develop through a process of bureaucratic incorporation. Often the underlying geopolitical relationships are ignored.

Using some of the original maps from Sir Halford Mackinder’s classic 1902 book, Britain and the British Seas this presentation has two objectives. First, it will draw attention to certain patterns of political history. Secondly, it will suggest the present and future political relevance of certain geographical configurations in the United Kingdom. In short an ‘Outlook’ (a term coined by W. H. Parker, one of Mackinder’s biographers) will be provided that will do three things:  interpret the past, visualize the present, and imagine the future of the United Kingdom. 

Biography: Geoffrey Sloan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading and is the Coordinator of the Mackinder Forum-UK.  Formerly, Head of the Strategic Studies and  International Affairs Department at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, he has also been a Visiting Professor at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, and a Defence Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford University. Professor Sloan also served as a Seaman Officer in the Royal Naval Reserve for nine years. 

To date he has published three books on geopolitics. His latest titled Geopolitics, Geography and Strategic History was published in both the United States and the United Kingdom in March 2017. It won the Stratfor Prize for Geopolitical Analysis in October 2017. The translation rights were sold to China in 2019 and in 2021 the book was published in India in both hardback and paperback editions.  Professor Sloan is currently researching a book on the British Army’s campaigns in Ireland in the twentieth century. 

Readings: Geoffrey Sloan, “The United Kingdom and Europe: The Geopolitics of a Post Brexit Relationship,” Foreign Policy Research Institute, https://www.fpri.org/article/2018/03/united-kingdom-europe-geopolitics-post-brexit-relationship/.

Geoffrey Sloan, “Down to Earth: Geopolitical Realities,” is a slightly more detailed version of an essay appearing in The Idea of Union: Great Britain and Northern Ireland, edited by John Wilson Foster and William Beattie Smith (Belcouver Press, 2021.)