Mackinder Forum Seminar #64: Professor Brian Blouet, “The Legacy of Sir Halford Mackinder”

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Professor Brian Blouet, College of William and Mary, presented a talk to the Mackinder Forum Seminar on “The Legacy of Sir Halford Mackinder” on August 28, 2022, 1:30-3:00 p.m. Eastern US time

Abstract: In the presentation, Blouet examined Mackinder’s legacy under several heads.  

“The Scope and Methods of Geography”: This is a remarkable paper given that Mackinder had little literature to draw on. In fact, he wrote the foundation document, which allowed Geography to be considered as a university subject and helped promote geographic education at every level.

Foundation of Academic Institutions: “The Scope and Methods of Geography” led to Mackinder being appointed the Oxford reader in Geography (1887) and the creation of the Oxford School of Geography (1889).  While Reader in Geography, Mackinder was appointed the first principal of the extension college at Reading (1892). Under Mackinder’s leadership, Reading became a university college in 1902 and was added to the treasury list of institutions receiving central funding. Mackinder left Reading University College in 1903. The institution was elevated to a university in 1925.  While Reader in Geography and Principal at Reading, Mackinder began lecturing at LSE in 1895, the year of its foundation. When the first director of LSE left, Sidney Webb moved quickly to appoint Mackinder to the position (1903).  In 1908, Mackinder left the LSE directorship ending a remarkable career as a founder or expander of educational institutions.  Recall that Mackinder’s knighthood, although coming after the south Russian expedition, was awarded for services to education.

Mackinder in Parliament: After leaving LSE, Mackinder sought a seat in Parliament being elected to the Camlachie constituency in Glasgow. He held the seat until 1922.

Publications:  Extensive bibliographies of Mackinder’s work are available. Of course, his lasting contributions include the “Geographical Pivot of History” and the Heartland Thesis. These themes will be a major part of our discussions this afternoon.

Biography: Brian W. Blouet attended the University of Hull, graduating in 1960 with a B.A. in Geography. Staying on for graduate work, he completed a Ph.D., “The Changing Landscape of Malta Under the Rule of The Order of St. John of Jerusalem, 1530-1798.” Blouet was appointed to the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield (1964-1969). While at Sheffield, The Story of Malta, 1967, was published by Faber and Faber, London.

In 1969, Blouet moved, as Associate Professor, to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, becoming Full Professor, Departmental Chair and then Director of the Center for Great Plains Studies.  In 1983, Blouet was appointed head of Geography at Texas A&M University, staying there until 1989, when selected to fill, at The College of William & Mary, the Huby Professorship in Geography and International Education, jointly appointed in the Department of Government and the School of Education. The coming academic year, 2022-23, is his last before retirement.

Blouet has published on Malta consistently between 1965 and the present. In 1974, while on research leave at the School of Geography, Oxford, he was given access to a tin trunk containing the remnants of the Mackinder Papers. The papers did, however, lead to other sources, enabling the author to publish Halford Mackinder: A Biography, Texas A&M University Press, College Station, 1987, plus other articles.  Out of his interest in Mackinder grew Geopolitics and Globalization in the Twentieth Century, Reaction Books, London, 2000, and 2010 (pb).

Other books include Latin America and the Caribbean, John Wiley, edition, 1981-2015, Contributory and editor, with O.M. Blouet and E.U. and Neighbors: A Geography of Europe in the Modern World, John Wiley, 2008, 2012, 2018 sole author. John Wiley texts reflect teaching interest, as does Geopolitics and Globalization, which grew from Geostrategic Thought, a seminar taught in Government most semesters during Blouet’s over thirty-year career at William and Mary.

Reading: sent via a separate email.