Mapping a New World: Geography and the Interwar Study of International Relations


  • Author's note: I would like to thank Anthony Lang, Gregory Ashworth and Brian Schmidt, who all commented on an earlier draft of this article, and the three anonymous reviewers for their comprehensive and helpful comments.


Before 1950, International Relations (IR) was a thoroughly interdisciplinary field. Geographers played a key role in the early development of IR, although they are now little known within the discipline that they helped to found. This article explores the pioneering work of three geographers in IR—Isaiah Bowman, Halford J. Mackinder and Derwent Whittlesey—and sets out to reclaim a lost chapter in the history of IR that questions the tendency to reduce IR to a conflict between realism and idealism.