John Agnew, Hidden Geopolitics: Governance in a Globalized World – Rowman & Littlefield, July 2022

John Agnew, Hidden Geopolitics: Governance in a Globalized World – Rowman & Littlefield, July 2022


Geopolitics is not dead, but nor does it involve the same old logic of a world determined by physical geography in a competition between Great Powers. Hidden Geopolitics recaptures the term to explore how the geography of power works both globally and nationally to structure and govern the workings of the global political economy. Globalization, far from its antithesis, is tightly wound up in the assumptions and practices of geopolitics, relating to the scope of regulatory authority, state sponsorship, and the political power of businesses to operate worldwide. Agnew shows how this “hidden” geopolitics and globalization have been vitally connected. He focuses on three moments: the origins of contemporary globalization in the policies pursued by successive US governments and allies after 1945 and its continued relevance even as the US role in the world changes; the close connection between geopolitical history and status of different countries and their relative capacities to exploit the possibilities and limit the costs of globalization; and new regulatory and standard-setting agencies which emerged under the sponsorship of major geopolitical powers but have grown in power and authority as the dominant states have become limited in their ability to manage the explosion of transnational transactions on their own.

Agnew argues that it is time to move on from the narrow inter-imperial cast of geopolitics and the foolish policy advice it produces. The old perspective on geopolitics has taken on new life with the rise of national-populist movements in Europe and the United States and the reinvigoration of territorial-authoritarian regimes in Russia and China. Notwithstanding this trend, we must see the contemporary world through the lens of these complex, “hidden” geopolitical underpinnings that Agnew seeks to expose.

Hidden Geopolitics rejects simplistic dichotomies between state and non-state actors, between geopolitics and globalization. It is a nuanced and helpful exploration of ways to analyze and grapple with an ever more complex world.
— Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University

I have been a strong proponent of taking territory seriously in the contemporary world. But that does not mean that we should ignore the ways in which territorial arrangements and the networks, flows, and assemblages associated with globalization are intertwined. Hidden Geopolitics makes a compelling case for their interpenetration. Drawing on different facets of his rich scholarly oeuvre, John Agnew has developed an account of remarkable historical and geographical depth that offers telling insights into how often-underappreciated geographical extensions of power have shaped, and continue to shape, the world in which we live.
— Alexander B. Murphy, University of Oregon

At the moment the news is simultaneously filled with both the ‘Great Power’ ambitions of Russia to re-gain a sphere of influence lost since the Cold War, as well as the importance of the SWIFT banking transfer network in the West’s subsequent choking off of the Russian economy. Agnew’s treatise on hidden geopolitics, existing between the national and the global, could not be more timely in thinking through contemporary geopolitics.
— Jason Dittmer, University College London

Timely and incisive, Agnew once again rethinks the field of geopolitics by turning attention away from analysing traditional actors – such as the territorial nation state – to consider instead the wealth of agents and processes involved in global capital flows. Hidden Geopolitics provides a conceptual toolkit to understand the geographical implications of offshore financing and associated illicit and licit flows of money. It will be an essential text for student and researcher alike, advancing our geographical and historical understanding of the making of the world in the 21st century.
— Alex Jeffrey, University of Cambridge

This book is an erudite and broad-ranging exploration of the interplay between logics of the territorial state and globalization in varied forms and contexts. John Agnew convincingly argues that our failure to recognize how “territorial determinism” and a “world of flows” coexist has undermined progress toward understanding and managing global political economy. Hidden Geopolitics points toward new realms of interdisciplinary research and should be pre-requisite reading for those seeking to lead states, firms, and varied regulatory agencies in the 21st century.
— Alexander C. Diener, University of Kansas

Hidden Geopolitics is an intellectual tour de force. Agnew brings a distinguished career of critical thinking about space and power to deciphering how contemporary world politics actually works. What we think of as geopolitics — territorial struggles between great powers — obscures the hidden and routine deployments of power over space by a great variety of non-state actors. Geopolitics and globalization are not opposites but entwined co-productions. In case studies of US border politics, Chinese narratives, US federalism and credit-rating agencies, Agnew exposes the hidden ways in which geopolitics actually works to produce the messy, turbulent and unjust world politics we experience every day.
— Gerard Toal, Virginia Tech, Washington D.C.

John Agnew could not have written a more timely and important book. Writing in the midst of a violent invasion of Ukraine by Russia, we need to understand not just the brutal logics of spatial expansionism and the domination of place but also the hidden and messy entanglements of finance, culture, business, energy, and electoral politics.
— Klaus Dodds, Royal Holloway University of London; author of Border Wars

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1 Response to John Agnew, Hidden Geopolitics: Governance in a Globalized World – Rowman & Littlefield, July 2022

  1. dmf says:

    “It charts how the Enlightenment ambition to tame the natural world, and human nature itself, became an international standard for rational and civilized authority and informed our geographical imagination of the international. ”
    https://newbooksnetwork.com/the-ideal-river

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