The Return of Geopolitics?

Panels and Discussions

Over the past several years, it has become common to announce the ‘return of geopolitics’ in shaping the world order and relations between states. The popular media, but also the discourse of state leaders, increasingly makes use of classical geopolitical concepts in describing global events, from ‘spheres of influence’, ‘balance of power’ or ‘grand strategy’, to geographical descriptors like ‘heartlands’, ‘rimlands’ or ‘shatterbelts’.

But are we really witnessing the ‘return’ of old style great-power or Cold War geopolitics? Or something entirely different, despite a similar terminology? Our panel of experts will discuss changing understandings and practices of geopolitics today, asking whether a ‘geopolitical lens’ is still appropriate for understanding world politics today. What sort of geopolitics does – and can – the EU embody as a global actor? Can we speak of any sort of rational strategic engagement when we look at current US – or Russian – geopolitics? How do citizens make sense of geopolitical agendas in their everyday lives – especially those most directly affected by conflict?


Ivan Krastev is chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, and Permanent Fellow at the IWM. He is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the global advisory board of Open Society Foundations, New York, and a member of the advisory council of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and the European Cultural Foundation (ECF).

Gwendolyn Sasse is the Director of the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) in Berlin, and Professor of Comparative Politics at the Department of Politics and International Relations and at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies at the University of Oxford. She is also Professorial Fellow at Nuffield College and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at Carnegie Europe. Prof. Sasse’s research has focussed on the EU’s eastward enlargement and Eastern Partnership, and ethnic and identity conflicts in Eastern Europe, with a particular focus on Ukraine.

Gerard Toal is a political geographer and Professor of Government and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. Prof. Toal is one of the founding scholars of critical geopolitics and has written extensively about the intersections of contemporary geopolitics and post-communist territorial conflicts. His latest book is Near Abroad: Putin, The West, and The Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus

Luiza Bialasiewicz is a political geographer and Professor of European Governance at the University of Amsterdam, where she is also co-director of the Amsterdam Centre for European Studies.

This event is being organized in cooperation of  IWM, the International Institute for Peace (IIP), and the Amsterdam Centre for European Studies (ACES).