Who is the Founder of Political Geography? A Comparative Study

This study was carried out with the question of: by whom and on what date political geography was named and conceptualized for the first time? Three people, Anne Robert Jacques Turgot philosopher, political economist and politician of the 18th century in France, Immanuel Kant famous philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment in Germany, and Friedrich Ratzl, German biologist and geographer were said to be the leading figures. The research was done through library method and studying original documents in Germany and France, relating to the three figures mentioned. The findings showed that Turgot, by writing a book plan on the subject at Sorbonne University, conceptualized and used the term Political Geography ( Geographie Politique) for the first time in 1751. Also, Kant conceptualized and used the term Political Geography (Politische Geographie) for the first time at Konigsberg University in Germany in 1757. Friedrich Ratzel also compiled and published the first book entiteled: Politische Geographie, but on the subject of State in 1897 at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Thus, Political Geography was named and conceptualized by Turgot and Kant in the middle of the 18th century.

Political geography is one of the specialized branches of geography that is concerned with the study of the mutual relationship between politics, geography and resulting phenomena. In other words, the political dimension of space is the pivotal subject-matter of political geography. The discipline has gone through ups and downs in its last century, and in the middle of 20th century laid dormant and at the end of 20th century was reconstructed and today is one of the active and known disciplines in the world.

The dominant view regarding the origin, the foundation and the founder of political geography in different references is that it dates back to the end of 19th century, simultaneous with the publication of Politische Geographie by Friedrich Ratzel, the professor of political geography in Leipzig University, Germany in 1897 (Mirhaydar, 2010: 5; Ezzati, 1992: 8; Hafeznia, 2002: 1; Dikshit, 1995: 5; Glassner&Fahrer, 2004: 5; Muir, 1987: 4).

But the research of the author shows that political geography as a scientific discipline has a long history and is named and conceptualized by others before Friedrich Ratzel. The issue led the author to do some more research and investigate documents related to the history of political geography in Germany and France. Thus, it was found that the history of naming and conceptualization of political geography date back to the middle of 18th century.

The necessity of the issue was considered when the course “philosophy and thought evolution of political geography” was given to the author at Tarbiat Modares University (T.M.U) in 2012-2013 academic years. Thus, the author began investigating the references related to political geography, among which Dwivedi. R. I in his book, the “Principles of Political Geography”, (Dwivedi, 1990: 25) and also Majid Hosein in his book, the “Evolution of Geographical Thought”, noted that political geography was used by the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant (Husain, 1995:175).

The claims and the attribution of political geography to Immanuel Kant raised doubts that Immanuel Kant is the founder of political geography.  The situation continued until November 3, 2011, when Dorreh Mirhaydar proposed a new theory. In his lectures, she noted that Friedrich Ratzel is not the founder of political geography’s thought. Political geography’s thought and its term proposed by the French philosopher Anne- Robert- Jacques Turgot in an article in 1751. The claims were based on a paper written by Michael Heffernan in 1994, in the journal of Political Geography (Mirhaydar, 2011: 4).

With regard to the claims, three people at three different places were known as founders of political geography, which makes the judgment difficult as to the history and the founder of political geography.

Thus, the author decided to take a trip to the Germany and France, and provide a realistic judgment about the foundation and the founder of political geography by means of a comparative study, and by investigating the original documents on which the claims were based.

In these trips, the author had the chance to see the original documents of Immanuel Kant, Anne- Robert- Jacques Turgot and Friedrich Ratzel. Also, the author could investigate and judge and write a report on the foundation and conceptualization of political geography and propose his own theory regarding its foundation history, its founder and their share in political geography’s thought.

  • Anne- Robert- Jacques Turgot and political geography

Anne- Robert- Jacques Turgot (1727- 1781) who seemed to use the term “political geography” for the first time (Agnew, 2002: 13) is known as a philosopher, political economist and politician of the 18th century in France. He was a student at Sorbonne University in 1750. He entered politics and entitled as a tax collector of the Limoges region, and owed his appointment as minister and prime minster of Louis XVI. He was the defender of the economic liberalism in agriculture, industry and business. For this reason, he is known as one of the first defenders of economic liberalism. However, there are different views about him as a politician, but generally there is consensus that some of the reforms, beliefs and thought of “France revolution” were related to him (Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia, 2013:1-7).

Turgot was a reformist and a technocrat, and regarding religious beliefs, he valued science and technology and believed in economic liberalism. Montesquieu knew Turgot as the best theorist in political geography. The main obsession of Turgot was to organize the political geography of France and free France from political dispersion and centralization of civil divisions (Hourcade, 2013).

Turgot proposed a book with the title of “Political Geography” in 1751. He never published the book and its plan in a 20-page format was collected and edited by Gustave Schelle in 1913, Paris. Apparently, Schelle tried to collect and edit Turgot’s own writings. Also, a text was collected and edited by Pierre-Sammuel Dupont de Ne’mours with the title of “Political Geography” using Turgot’s name in 1808- 1811. He has imposed his own view in the text (Heffernan, 1994: 339). So it has less value than Schelle’s text.

Professor Robic, the professor of the history of geography, believes that Turgot was an intellectual in the 18th century and he was the proponent of economic liberalism who was in favor of removing limitation from economic activities. Adam Smith’s was affected by his thoughts, but did not refer to Turgot in his works. When Turgot was at Sorbonne, he proposed the plan of a book in different fields like political geography, which he did not write. Political geography of Turgot was equivalent to the human geography in the end of 19th century that was changed by Paul Vidal de la Blache. Vidal de la Blache in his own view of human geography neglected political geography, while simultaneously Friedrich Ratzel expounded political geography which was centered on state and country in Germany. In fact, the human geography of de la Blache was the same as Turgot’s political geography whose political facet was neglected by de la Blache and whose title was changed (Robic, 2013). Indeed, de la Blache criticized Ratzel’s attempt to create political geography as an independent discipline (Herb, 2008: 28).

The picture of Jacques Turgot, the founder of political geography in 1751

Turgot in his paper in 1751, when he was student at Sorbonne University, investigated the relationship between geography and progress. Turgot, as a philosopher, economist and political manager in the age of enlightenment, investigated the effects of political geography on human progress. According to Turgot, human civilization and progress have gone through some different and evolutionary stages and each of them are characterized by different relations between human and nature, different life styles, different forms of economic, social and political organizations. Thus, human civilization has gone through four stages in continues, linear and evolutionary forms: Hunting Era, shepherding Era, agriculture Era and commerce Era (Heffernan, 1994: 328).

Turgot characterized the four main elements of political geography in his article. 1- Historical study of the relationship between natural world and the distribution of population on earth and the formation of nation- states; 2- the study of resources, industry, business and wealth in special countries; 3- the study of transportation systems in different countries; 4- the study of geographical differences in the different forms of government and political organization around the world. In his opinion, the science which has the four mentioned elements should be used for quality services in states and their management. Turgot characterized three domains to use political geography: 1- forming foreign economic, political relations of a country; 2- specifying structures, organizations and institutions of domestic management of a country; 3- specifying the most qualified type of state system and constitution for a complex array of special human and natural situations. According to Turgot, political geography is concerned with study of all economic, social and political aspects of human activities and humans’ mutual relationship with nature. Such perspective was based on his intellectual thought that believed science, and in particular geography, should be conducive to the state, and in his view, political geography had intellectual and practical aspects in managerial behavior (Ibid: 334).

The idea of successive advance of human progress which was proposed by Turgot and others in the 1750s was converted to the classic pattern of interpretation of human- kind history and the pivotal principles of modern liberalism thought. Turgot believed that Europe has gone through four transient stages of progress. According on Turgot, each stage or era had different life styles, a complex array of special thoughts and beliefs, organizations, rules, possession systems, state, customs, procedures, ethics and its own language. There are different views about Turgot and his role in the civilization evolutions and in the enlightenment. Some consider him as the founder of “philosophy of history”. Some believes that his materialistic interpretation from historical progress shows his secular and non-religious views including Darwin and Marx. Some consider him as a pioneer positivist whose optimistic, rational and idealistic massage permeated into the 18th century by social mathematicians like Condorcet and also by modern positivist sociologists like Saint Simon into the 19th century. Hence, Frank Manuel, as a historian of thoughts, knows Turgot as the “first modernist” (Ibid: 337).

The existence of Turgot’s plan to write a book on political geography in 1751,which was apparently edited and published by Schele in 1913, divided political geography into two sections. The first section: theoretical facets of political geography; the second section: graphing the different maps of political history of different regions of the world.

The picture of cover page of Turgot’s political geography in 1751 (Edited by Schele)

In the theoretical facet, he conceptualized political geography as following issues:

  • Investigation of the relationship between physical geography with distribution and settlement of human groups and population and states and countries’ divisions in the world, formation of human structures and nations, states and countries and legal systems, that is, the relationship between natural infrastructure and human and social superstructure that country and state have formed based on them.

Nature –> human and social structures  –>  state and country

  • Investigation of the relationship between geography and commercial balance and wealth of different regions of the country, food productions, commodity cycle and exchanges between different regions and countries.
  • Investigation of the relationship between geography and transportation networks (sea and overland) and their effects on victories of countries, unions, interests and interdependency of countries and etc.
  • Investigation of the relationship between geography and states diversity, diversity of traits, geniuses of nations and moral and cultural diversities.
  • Investigation of the effects of mentioned factors on the interests of the world’s nations and countries, on power, views, hopes, political systems, stability or change and revolution, domestic politics, civil divisions, and power delegation to the provinces, situation of capitals, commercial balance, economic production, network of roads and ports, terminals, capitals, courts, municipalities, spatial justice between capitals and townships, cities and villages, state and government nature, country’s expansion and etc. (Turgot, 1751: 255) .

Turgot believed that the relationship between geography and politics is affected by two factors of production diversities and facilitation of communication. He divided his studies on political geography into two sections: a) Theoretical political geography and b) positive or historical political geography.

Theoretical political geography investigated the relationship between governing politics with their people and natural environments (the relationship between territory, nation and state).

According to Turgot, geography and history locate human in its special distance. One of them explains spatial distances (geography) and the other explains time distances (history). Every moment in history has its own specific political geography. Geography is the present image that is continuously evolving. Turgot considered positive (possibly descriptive) political geography as a science concerned with the study of the past and the present of the countries and nations that comprise the cases below:

The situation of political world, different powers of nations, countries area, their physical, moral and political qualities, population number, state wealth, residents traits, facilities or obstacles that state makes on the way of growth, progress and development, business between nations, their claims related to each other, their public interests, the way that they take, their way to the more progress or the collapse and why some nations are developed and others are underdeveloped(Turgot, 1751: 257).

The second section of the plan of the Turgot’s political geography allocated to the designing of political maps of the world that proposed the provision of seven maps as follows:

  1. Distribution map of nations, races, religions, life styles, language and culture in the world
  2. Map of political geography of the history of the world, nation’s formation and their history from barbarism to civilization and life styles, empires and large states and colonies, wars in particular between barbers and civilized world in Europe and Asia
  3. Map of chronology of different nations and states like Egypt, Iran, China, Greek, Phoenician, Rome and etc. and the wars between them like Troy and Peloponnese.
  4. Map of political geography of Alexander and Rome, Carthage, China, India, Iran situation
  5. Political map of the Greek and the relationship between Rome, Asia Minor and Iranians
  6. Map of political geography of the era of Rome Empire, civil divisions, governing, relation with barbers, Persians and the Parthians, situation of Christian’s world, evanescence of Islam and political geography emanating from their relation, relationship between religion and politics, state structure of Rome Empire, religious and political wars with neighbors and etc.
  7. Map of political geography of the divided Europe and Franks, Germans, Berbers, Persians and Muslims wars to the Rome Empire, evanescence and expansion of Islam.

It seems that Turgot’s book present a wide perspective from political geography in both theoretical and descriptive aspects, which can recommend the formation of the management, legal and political structures and also proper management of states and nations affaires. Since the plan of Turgot’s book exists and was presented in 1751 and other works under the title of political geography had been written later, it can be said that based on historical documents that have been known so far, Turgot is the founder of political geography and expounder of its concept and meaning in 1751.

  • Immanuel Kant and political geography

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was one the most famous philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. He was born in Konigsberg, the capital of Prussia at the time, which today is the center of Kaliningrad and the Russian exclave located in the coasts of the Baltic. He studied and died in that city. He was raised in a religious family and was affected by religious thoughts, but later became skeptical of religion (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2013).

Kant studied at Konigsberg University and became a visiting teacher from 1745 to 1755 in a small town near Konigsberg. He received his doctorate in June, 1755 and started to teach in the same year at the University of Konigsberg (Hussain, 1995: 171). Kant taught in different philosophical and non- philosophical domains like natural science, geography, engineering and humanities. His lectures have been famous in the fields of philosophy, logic, metaphysics and ethics. He taught Anthropology and Geography (Anthropology in the winter semester and geography in the summer semester). Kant taught Geography for 40 years in the years of 1756-96 and taught repetitively 49 times. His courses in geography were welcomed. Kant started to teach physical geography a year after starting in Konigsberg. He believed physical geography is a science of the world that is intertwined with moral and political lives of citizens. Kant considered teaching anthropology as necessary which was in line with physical geography. He also believed physical geography and anthropology are philosophy which was beneficial to the world. He believed human was deemed in line with nature. So, he considered the teaching of anthropology and physical geography necessary, which were two sciences enlightening students’ mind related to surrounding people and nature to live a better life. According to Kant, the purpose of teaching geography was to up bring students as a global citizen (Elden, 2011: 1-2).

The picture of the Kant, German philosopher and geographer

Immanuel Kant used the term political geography in his teaching scheme in the first half of 18th century with the German equivalent Politische Geographie. There are different views regarding the usage of this term by Kant because his works and lectures lessons were collected and published by his students later like Herder, Hessee, Kaehler and etc. In these works the term political geography and its concept were used to some extent. In fact, Kant described political geography and other branches of the geography in his framework of teaching scheme (Stark, 2013:1). After starting teaching in the field of physical geography in 1757, Kant claimed that geography is divided into two branches: mathematical geography and political geography.

However, in 1736 a book with the title of Textbook of the Geography was published for college students in 1736, in which model was proposed by Schiffert to study the planet earth. The model was investigated three perspectives: From physical perspective regarding physical traits like location, climate and etc; from mathematical perspective like measuring and mapping; from political perspective like states and countries situations (Kant’s gesammelte Schriften, Bd.2901, 2009). Although the term political geography has not been used, political investigation of the world can be interpreted as the investigation of its political geography.

Although Kant’s works by his students refer to different dates like 1757, 1763-6, 1765-66, 1770 and 1774 (stark, 2013: 1-4), it seems that the first time that political geography was used by Kant was recorded in 1757, and possibly were used by Kant with different conceptual explanations.

Also, Majid Hussein in his book noted that the usage date of the term political geography by Kant goes back to 1757 (Hussain, 1995: 174).

Apparently, Kant investigated political geography during his teaching in physical geography in different situations. Also, Kant divided geography into different branches and emphasized that the planet earth should be studied from perspectives as follows:

  1. Physical Geography (Physische Geographie): as the basis of other branches of geography and history.
  2. Mathematical Geography (Mathematische Geographie): to measure the form of the earth and its movement and location in the Solar System.
  3. Moral Geography (Moralische Geographie): to study the relationship between Religious rituals with traditions and geographical regions and their spatial differences.
  4. Political Geography (Politische Geographie): to study the relationship between political and legal systems with physical geography.
  5. Commercial Geography (Mercantilische Geographie): to study the geographical facets of business and oversupply.
  6. Theological Geography (Theologische Geographie): to study the relationship between religious principles and natural perspectives and spatial differences between them (Kant’s Schriften 9, & Elden, 2011: 8).

The above mentioned categorization is noted in the 9th volume of original text published in 1802. The hand scripts that are in old alphabet were rewritten with new German alphabet in 2009. Clearly, Kant mentioned political geography as a one of the disciplines of geography in his hand scripts. You can see the original text and its rewritten form below.

The original text of political geography by Immanuel Kant. Source: (Kant’s Werke, 1923: 164)
The rewritten text of political geography by Immanuel Kant. Source: (Info software, 2009)

In the text on political geography, Kant writes: “the first legal principle in the human society is a public law or power and gravity that resist violations. Like natural rules that are applicable to earth and its residents. In this situation, public rules and the power is related to political geography that is based on physical geography. If all rivers of Russia had been located in the south and had not flowed into North Sea, Russia could benefit from it properly. In Iran, There were two ruling governments. One of them was in Isfahan and the other in Gandhara. They did not want to destroy each other, since there was a desert of Kerman between them that was larger than some of greatest seas and the situation made deployment of troops extremely difficult”.

According to Kant, in political geography, the result of the relationship between human and environment and situations of nations is evaluated by two procedures. First, the way human situations are evolved by incidental factors like change in governments, political plots and territory’s annexation. But, in the second procedure the permanent factors like the location of countries, productions, business, population and customs are debated. However, the two procedures are complementary in evaluating the relationship between human and environment (Hussain, 1995: 175).

Kant in the conceptualization of political geography, in addition to the above mentioned factors, sees political geography as related to private law, citizenship law and public rules of the world. On the one hand, Kant sees human role for understanding the earth and territory and its occupation and the problem of possession and its effect on social relations and society and relations of human groups with their living places and spaces as key topics in private law, in the domain of political geography (Elden, 2012: 7), and on the other, he attributes the existence of a global rule, which is the primary principle to construct a civil society, to the political geography (Edwards, 2011: 233).

In other words, it seems that Kant had two geographical views of reality which were based on rules of political geography and anthropology as sciences of the world which were linked with philosophy and he gave them high educational value. One of them was general and public view to the world and geographical rules which were the principles of worldview and the requirement of existence of civil society and global legal rules and human political life, and the other was special view to spatial rules that were affected from related geographical and anthropological differences and related to the citizen’s political life. Kant sees both global and regional facets of space with the base of physical geography and the superstructure of anthropology that is related to the political life of human as political geography.

Friedrich Ratzel and political geography

Friedrich Ratzel (1844-1904) was a German biologist, ethnographer and geographer, and graduated in 1868 from Heidelberg University in Zoology. He had many journeys to Mediterranean region, North America, Cuba and Mexico, and in addition to biology, he studied different races and ethnicities, and published his work about cities and cultures in North American in 1876 that typically helped to establish cultural geography. Friedrich Ratzel started to teach as a geography professor at Munich schools of engineering and went to the Leipzig University in 1886. Here, his lectures and teachings were welcomed. He based political geography by writing “Anthropogeographie”, by studying the effects of locations and physical terrains on life styles and its publication in 1882 and 1891. False interpretations of students from the book caused some to accuse him of the thought of geographical determinism. He wrote the “Politische Geographie” that helped to create theories like Lebensraum (Living Space).

Friedrich Ratzel, The writer of the first book in political geography in 1897

Ratzel wrote some articles in the field of political geography as follows: “space and people” in 1894, “state and its favored geographical territory” in 1896, “territorial expansion of states and countries” in 1896, “about living space” in 1897 and “living space” in 1901. He believed that states and countries compete for space permanently and all creatures compete for space and the most powerful of them would control the space (Adhikari, 1997: 30).

Ratzel, in a biological analogy, sees country as a living creature that is formed in the process of mutual relationship between people and their territory (Herb, 2008: 23). Based on this analogy and simulation, he believed that countries have a life cycle comprised of birth, growth, maturity and death.

Ratzel believed that state needs space and resources (to feed) to survive, and believed that if the state is not put under the pressure by neighboring countries, will intend to cross the limits and reach the natural borders. Later, he proposed the theory of Lebensraum (Living Space). According to this theory, the state needs geographical space or expandable habitat for survival. He saw population growth and decrease in domestic power as the two main impulses of space expansion at the neighbors’ expense, and believed that its nation should have spatial perception and recognize their spatial needs (Dikshit, 1995: 5).

Ratzel listed seven rules of spatial expansion as follows:

  • The size of each state expands based on its culture.
  • The growth of states obeys other growth facets of its people that should outpace the growth of the state.
  • States expand by regulating, combining, accumulating and attracting small units.
  • Borders are marginal organs and reflect power, growth and evolutions of the country and are unstable.
  • States seek valuable regions (with political importance) during their expansion process.
  • The primary impulses for spatial growth of states are emanating from outside.
  • Public tendency to territorial adjunction permeate from a country into the others and accelerate permanently (Adhikari, 1997: 31-34 &Dwivedi, 1990: 2).

Ratzel published his book with the title of “Politische Geographie” which was about State in 596 pages, 25 chapters, and 371 sub-chapters.

Chapter 1: territory in state is a living creature.

Chapter 2: the role of territory in state growth

Chapter 3: territory occupation and sovereignty over it

Chapter 4: the evolution of states’ movement and growth

Chapter 5: separation of political values

Chapter 6: victory and colonialism

Chapter 7: civil divisions and their relations

Chapter 8: the effect of geographical, religious and national beliefs on states’ growth

Chapter 10: location

Chapter 11: neighborhood political location

Chapter 12: political spaces

Chapter 13: the impacts of political functions of other spaces

Chapter 14: political impacts on small spaces

Chapter 15: space and number of population

Chapter 16: transportation and state construction

Chapter 17: borders

Chapter 18: natural borders

Chapter 19: borders as periphery or crust of the live creature

Chapter 20: coast, peninsula and straits

Chapter 21: islands and their political values

Chapter 22: sea and marine nations

Chapter 23: rivers and lakes

Chapter 24: mineral derivation and city building

Chapter 25: land forms and occurred historical movements (Ratzel, 1897).

Ratzel saw political geography as the same as the State. In other words, his imagination from political geography was limited to the State phenomenon. So, he theorized the State as a living creature and its actions to reach the vital space, in his works. Because he was a biologist and was affected by theory of evolution of floras and faunas, he could generalize its rules to the domain of state and politics and he was placed in the same direction with the dominant paradigm of social Darwinism. The thought atmosphere in the time, Europe in 19th century, was affected by theory of evolution and social Darwinism of Herbert Spencer. Besides, there were colonial competitions in Europe between Britain, Russia, France and Germany to occupy geographical spaces of Asia, Africa, Oceania and America, and Germany was created by second Reich comparing the unit of states in 1817 that had the impulse of powers competition and spatial expansion. Possibly, the thought atmosphere of the Europe in 19th century affected Ratzel and his theory of analogy of the State as a living creature and his life space theory.

The cover page of political geography book by Friedrich Ratzel in 1897

Debate and Conclusion

  1. Political geography is one of the oldest disciplines of geographical science that was expounded and conceptualized by two scientists and philosophers in the enlightenment in the 18th century. Anne- Robert- Jacques Turgot, the France philosopher and political economist, provided his book scheme of political geography in 20 pages in 1751, and explicitly used the term political geography. He believed political geography depends on physical geography. In fact, Turgot recognized political geography and physical geography. Nowadays, his political geography is interpreted as human geography, but he did not mention human geography and explicitly used the term political geography. Immanuel Kant, the German geographer and philosopher, used the term political geography in 1757 and put it next to physical and mathematical geography. However, later on, he added some other sub-disciplines to geography like Theological, moral and commercial geography.So, based on works of the philosophers and scientists, political geography is the oldest discipline in the domain of human geography, and existed even before human geography and possibly in the next years some people like Paul Vidal de la Blache put away political geography and instead, enacted human geography, and made political geography as a sub-discipline of human geography. So, political geography has been recognized after physical geography by two philosophers and a period of 263 years has elapsed since then.
  2. Immanuel Kant can be known as the founder of modern and scientific geography. In addition to teaching geography for 40 years, particularly in physical geography and anthropology, he conceptualized the major and interpreted geography as a science of the world that is valuable and is useful for human lives. According to Kant, geography is the science of space which forms the framework and skeleton of all phenomena in the planet earth. Kant conceptualized geography 40 years before Alexander von Humboldt and 50 years before Karl Ritter in Germany. Also, in addition to conceptualizing geography, Kant termed and expounded political geography, both philosophically and conceptually.
  3. Turgot believed that political geography is effective on the stages of human development and introduced political geography as a science which is concerned with the study of State and Country, which in addition to production knowledge for development science, provision and point of view, has functional values for better management of the country and geographical space. According to Turgot, political geography is concerned with the study of evolution of human structures and nations based on human relations with physical situations and the formation of state and country, political morphology of the state, territorial and human systems of the country, geographical differences between states and political systems, investigation of the causes of nation’s development and underdevelopment, forming foreign relations of the state, expounding the structures and management organizations to better management of the state and also determining the better form of political system and constitution to state. His opinion related to political geography was a combination of environmentalism and regionalism that expounded state and government using casual and descriptive methods.
  4. Kant knew geography and political geography as a science of world that is intertwined with human moral and political lives and is useful for human, and by means of which a citizen can be made. According to Kant, political geography was concerned with the study of evolution of political, legal systems and human structures based on human’s relations with physical geography and political situations of states and nations affected by variable factors like changing governments, territory annexation, political plots and stable factors like geographical location and situation, traditions and ethics and etc.  Kant’s opinion related to political geography was a combination of environmentalism and regionalism and believed that physical geography is the base of political geography and legal and political systems.
    1. Ratzel, who came from biology to ethnography and later cultural and human geography, saw political geography as a science of State and government. He considered the state phenomena by publishing his book in 1897 with the title of Political Geography and with his biological analogy simulated the state with a live creature which needs a space to survival and proposed living space theory with its spatial growth rules. It seems that Ratzel was affected by his special situations like his biological background, thought atmosphere of social Darwinism, the creation atmosphere of Germany, and colonial competitions of European countries. Ratzel considered the state and country phenomena as the core of political geography and conceptualized them in terms of nature, characteristics and spatial behavior. So, it is true that state has been the major issue in political geography which is considered by political geographers, but the domain of political geography is not equal with the state. Thus, firstly, Ratzel did not consider all issues in political geography and only expounded the State. Secondly, his book related to 1897 and was published 146 years after Turgot’s works and 140 years after Kant’s works. So, Ratzel cannot be known as the founder of political geography. But based on documents, Ratzel is the first writer of scientific book in political geography. His point of view in this context was descriptive-analytic that expounded the nature and spatial behavior of the State phenomena, and it seems that he was not affected, as in the explanation of the state phenomena from environmentalism and determinism as it has been imagined, since he did not attribute the origin of this phenomena to geographical environment, and compared it to a living creature, which is not necessarily environmentalism.
    2. According to Kant, Ratzel and Turgot, the State and government phenomena are the core issue in political geography. However, the way problems are addressed is different between them. But, Kant, in addition to the state and government phenomena, proposed a Universalist view and creation of universal citizenship in the domain of political geography.
    3. Research findings, based on documents, show that the theory which claims that Ratzel is the founder of political geography is not valid and is rejected. Turgot, the French philosopher, is the founder of the political geography in 1751, and at the same time Immanuel Kant used and conceptualized political geography in the second half of the 18th century. Friedrich Ratzel published the first scientific and modern book with the title of “political geography” about the state and country. So, based on documents, political geography is founded by Turgot in 1751. However, this theory can be challenged by finding older documents.
    4. The research shows that, first, the history of political geography is older than what has been said before. So, 150 years is added to the history of political geography and now it is 260 years old, and it can be said the discipline has a long academic history. Second, it is revealed that political geography is the oldest discipline in human geography. In fact, all disciplines that today are in the domain of human geography, was in fact in the domain of political geography before. In other words, they were known as political geography and not as human geography. Third, attribution of political geography and its explanation and conceptualization to famous philosophers and scientists like Turgot and Kant in the Age of enlightenment can attach more prestige to political geography as an oldest discipline of geographical sciences.



    The author wishes to acknowledge and express his thanks for the help provided by the people and institutions as follows:

    • The Committee Council of the center for political geography at T.M.U that was the first encourager.
    • Professor Fatollahi, Research vice president of T.M.U who paved the way to do the research.
    • The University of Gothenburg in Germany and its geography department that hosted the researcher.
    • The Central Library of the University of Gothenburg and faculty of philosophy and the center of Kant studies that provided the author with some books and documents.
    • The Center of National Scientific Researches of France and Iranian and Indian studies center that hosted the researcher in Paris.
    • Professor Dorreh Mir Haydar for providing the author with Michael Heffernan’s article relating to Turgot.
    • Günter Mayer, professor at The University of Gothenburg- Germany, who hosted the author and collaborates with him.
    • My dear friend Dr. Davoud Yazdani in Germany for his assistance in translation of some documents.
    • Professor Bernard Hourcade who helped the author by providing the original works of Turgot and coordination with some professors to interview them and translate some texts and etc.
    • My wife Sakine Khorashadizadeh and my son Yaser Hafeznia who helped me during sabbatical leave in Germany. Also, the author expresses gratitude to his children Hamid Reza, Hamed and Behzad who endured their separation from their parents in Tehran.
    • Professor Heiner klemme, the manager of center for Kant studies-Germany, and Professor Margit Rophing, the researcher of the center, Stuart Elden in Warwik University-England, and Werner Stark in the science academy of Berlin who helped me by providing some documents.
    • Professor Mary Robic at CNRS, France who helped me by providing the second version of the plan of Turgot’s book.
    • My friends EbrahimRoomina, Hasan Tavana, SyrusAhmadi, Mahdi Karimi and Ahmad Taheri who helped me in some ways.



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Dr. Mohammad Reza Hafeznia

Dr.Mohammad Reza Hafeznia is a professor of political geography and geopolitics in Tarbiat Modares University...

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