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Contemporary Crises and Changes: Geopolitical and Geoeconomic Analyses

Call for contributions for the issue 34 (2018-1)
Deadline for submission of proposals: 1
st october 2017

Consulter cet appel à contributions en français

Coordinators of this issue: François Bost (francois.bost@univ-reims.fr) and Stéphane Rosière (stephane.rosiere@univ-reims.fr)

The aim of this issue, which follows on from the conference held in Reims in May 2016, is to report on the crises and changes at geopolitical and geoeconomic levels affecting the world today. As evidenced by a series of indicators including wars, terrorist attacks, the economic crisis, falling economic growth, unemployment etc., the world has entered a period of considerable instability. This issue of L’Espace politique would like to help us to understand the forms assumed by this crisis and its consequences, particularly at (geo)economic and (geo)political levels.

An essential feature of the articles to be included in this issue will be the consideration of how the current development of the world differs from the portrayals provided in the 1990s and 2000s. Certain major events highlight the unexpected nature of these trajectories. On the economic level, the ‘subprime’ crisis that arose in the United States in 2007 spread to the rest of the planet, and the problems generated by it persist in 2017: i.e. the stagnation of growth in developed countries and its deceleration in the emerging economies, the explosion of unemployment, deindustrialization and offshoring, market tensions in China and the euro zone etc.

On the geopolitical level, hotbeds of tension have proliferated in Saharan Africa, the Middle East (Iraq and Syria), the Far East (China Sea) and Eastern Europe (Ukraine). Nationalist forces, populist movements, and parties that advocate closure appear to be thriving in this context. The centres of power are shifting between the United States, China and the other regional powers. Regional organizations located at the cusp of geoeconomics and geopolitics are very much affected by the current tensions. Brexit and the tensions within the Gulf Cooperation Council and the North American Free Trade Agreement are emblematic of these developments that had not been predicted by any analyst, even a decade ago.

Thus the ‘Contemporary Crisis and Changes’ issue of L’Espace politique aims to explore these upheavals by analysing them in detail. This will involve the comparison of the expectations of globalization and its contemporary portrayals while also highlighting, in particular, the logics of closure that appear to characterize it. The coordinators of this issue would like to focus on the following three main topics:

1. The crisis: has the world been facing a ‘crisis’ since 2007-2008 or has it undergone a process of ‘change’ that is largely unprecedented and signals a series of major upheavals? The examination of this question will involve the identification of the most relevant expressions of this crisis and/or dynamics which indicate the emergence of a new world.

2. ‘Closure’ (withdrawal, more or less concealed forms of protectionism, competing block logics, construction of barriers at borders etc.) appears to be one of the manifestations of the current situation. Is there a new dominant global logic involved here? To what extent does the closure, which is still relative, go back to the idea of asymmetry, and does it give rise to inequalities?

3. What link can be established between economics and politics in the way the world is currently developing. How are the two interlinked? The texts can respond to these questions on all levels, from the local to the global, and take all kinds of actors into consideration.

This issue of L’Espace politique is dedicated to the changes under way in the world today. Do they constitute an opportunity or a threat? What is their nature? How can they be analysed? In undertaking this critical and analytical assessment, the journal’s coordinators would like to highlight three fundamental considerations.

1. The ideas of crisis and change

While the terms ‘crisis’ and ‘change’ are emblematic of current developments, they also express very different analyses and representations. The term ‘crisis’ is alarming and conveys the idea of a random incident in the course of a general development that remains otherwise unaltered. The term ‘change’ tends to be interpreted more positively, despite implying the advent of a period of uncertainty and profound reconfiguration

The discussion of the terms ‘crisis’ and ‘change’ raises a central question: is the world order simply going through a rough patch at present while everything remains generally stable, or are we entering a new era that necessitates the complete revision of our interpretation frameworks? Despite the associated reservations, the energy transition provides an example of a very serious change that is associated not only with a temporary crisis but also a profound transformation of the way the world works.

In short, the task is to respond to this question while demonstrating from a geoeconomic and geopolitical perspective how a ‘new world order’ will emerge that is more multipolar and more conflictive that that dreamt of by the neoliberal politicians and economists of the 1990s.

2. A logic of ‘closure’?

While the idea of ‘opening’ associated with mobility is one of the keywords of globalization, the paradoxical ‘closure’ of the world would appear to be both a symptom and cause of the current tensions. It manifests at economic, territorial and cultural levels. The re-assessment of these fetishized concepts (opening, mobility etc.) would appear to be necessary.

The economic forms of closure are numerous: the stagnation of economic integration since Doha in 2001, the regionalization of the world in competing intergovernmental organizations, the questioning of regional cooperation (Trump, Brexit), the return to protectionism and strengthening of the ‘economic war’ etc.

From a geopolitical point of view, far from representing the ‘end of history’ and the advent of a widespread peace, the current situation is marked by wars, territorial claims (for example, Russia and China), political crises (Korea, Arab Spring, European populism), the persistence of terrorist centres and threats, and secessionist tensions (Scotland, Catalonia). Has the post-territorial vision, which was the doxa of geography, been under challenge for the last 25 years?

Intercultural closure also warrants a mention. ‘Civilization shock’ has numerous supporters and new groupings are forming. Territorial claims and interethnic and migratory tensions are disrupting global integration. What meaning should we assign to the numerous ‘walls’ being erected in cities and at borders? Does the current situation validate the neo-liberal paradigm of peace through trade?

3. The links between (geo)economics and (geo)politics?

From a more epistemological perspective, this issue of L’Espace politique aims to examine the relationship between geopolitics and geoeconomics. Which links can be identified between these two disciplines? Edward Luttwak, for example, conceives them as temporally successive, with the world moving on from geopolitics to geoeconomics. Is this theory valid? The interaction between the two approaches remains unexplored and would appear to be productive. The economic and/or monetary crisis could become geopolitical or vice versa: the secession of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, followed by that of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lougansk, became a monetary crisis for their inhabitants and involved a financial crisis (and sanctions) for Russia when the European Union responded to the Russian annexations with financial measures. Are these measures effective? Lacking armed forces and territorial claims, Germany, the champion of severity, is now concerned about the poor state of its military machine. Does the current difficult economic situation explain these behaviours and fears, which we believed to have disappeared?

The coordinators of this issue welcome proposals for contributions relating to these three general topics, the discussion of the key concepts (crisis, mutation, closure, globalization) or the critical examination of the descriptions in the face of local situations. The latter may refer to different disciplinary fields, such as geography, economics, political science, political sociology etc.

Timetable

Draft texts must be submitted by 1 October 2017 for online publication in late winter 2017-18. They should be sent to Francois Bost (francois.bost@univ-reims.fr) and Stéphane Rosière (stephane.rosiere@univ-reims.fr).

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