Theory Talks provides a forum for research fellows and visiting scholars of the Max Planck Institute to discuss questions relating to legal, political and moral theory. The seminars normally take place once a month, and will include a short introductory talk (10-15 minutes) followed by a general discussion. Each seminar will focus on a new publication, a classic text, or a current development. All are welcome to participate in the discussions.
For previous sessions, please check the archive.
Fellows or visitors wishing to present in or to suggest a theme for a future edition of Theory Talks are warmly invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The “Geographical Pivot of History” Revisited – On the Interplay of Geopolitics and International Law
Geopolitics has (re-)emerged as both an explanatory pattern and analytical framework in contemporary international relations over the last years: phenomena such as shrinking ice masses in the Arctic or processes like gradual desertification have hence revived deliberations on the role and effects of (geographical) space(s) within international politics more broadly.
The interplay between geopolitics and international law, however, has oftentimes been neglected in this context: how can power-based “classical” geopolitics thus be reconciled with (international) legal reasoning? What answers does international law hold for fundamental geopolitical categories, such as frontiers, space(s) or spheres of influence? And how could it be possible to harmonize these sometimes-contradictory intellectual planes?
The required readings for the session are supposed to fulfil two broad objectives: in a first step, the notion of geopolitics as originally conceptualized by authors such as Mackinder will be introduced (while acknowledging its distinct historical context) before the second reading expounds some points of contact between geopolitical and international legal reasoning, which will subsequently form the basis for the plenary discussion.
Social Theory and Legal Doctrine: Transversal Paradoxes