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Article

Emily Gilbert and Connie Yang

Moving away from the conventional geopolitical analyses of territory, states, and nations, geographical research is now focused on the ways that political identities are constituted in and through spaces and places at various sites and scales. Many geographers attend to how power gets articulated, who gets marginalized, and what this means for social justice. Poststructuralist theory problematized the fundamental premise that the literal subject is resolutely individual, autonomous, transparent, and all knowing. Feminist and critical race scholars have also insisted that the self is socially embedded and intersubjective, but also that research needs to be embodied. There are four prominent and inherently political themes of analysis in contemporary geographical research that resonate with contemporary events: nation states and nationalism; mobility and global identities; citizenship and the public sphere; and war and security. Geographers have critically examined the production and reproduction of national identity, especially salient with the rise of authoritarianism. Geographers have also focused on the contemporary transnationalization of political identity as the mobility of people across borders becomes more intensive and extensive because of globalization. Consequently, globalization and global mobility have raised important questions around citizenship and belonging. Rethinking war and the political, as well as security, has also become a pressing task of geographers. Meanwhile, there has been a growing attention to the political identities of academics themselves that resonates with a concern about forms of knowledge production. This concern exists alongside a critique of the corporatization of the university. Questions are being raised about whether academics can use their status as scholars to push forward public debate and policy making.

Article

Next to national defense, energy security has become a primary issue for the survival and wellbeing of both developed and developing nations. A review of the literature shows how concerns for energy security acquired a new dimension after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when the Western powers and a weakened Russia competed for the control of the Eurasia region and its energy resources. Research has also focused on how different countries have developed a variety of strategies for securing their energy supply. Energy security literature can be split into three general sections: neoclassical economics and public choice, bureaucratic politics and public administration, and political economy. Scholars have also explored regime theory, resource conflict, and the relationship between national energy security and foreign policy. In the case of the United States, four major challenges in foreign policy issues related to energy security can be identified: “building alliances, strengthening collective energy security, asserting its interests with energy suppliers, and addressing the rise of state control in energy.” These challenges require eight specific foreign policy responses from the U.S. government, two of which constitute the core relationship between energy security and foreign policy making: “candor and respect” for the producer countries, and foreign policies that promote the stability and security of suppliers.

Article

Paul D. Williams

Peace operations involve the expeditionary use of uniformed personnel (police and/or military) whose mission is to help secure “international peace and security.” In many ways, peace operations are the most visible activity of the United Nations with a mandate to deter armed conflict through preventive deployment or help to kick-start a peace process through peacemaking initiatives, among other purposes. Peace operations can be grouped into several categories, including preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping, post-conflict peacebuilding, and peace enforcement. There are three clusters of approaches that have tried to think conceptually about the relationship between peace operations and broader processes of global politics: global culture, critical theory, and cosmopolitanism. Questions of success and failure in peace operations have been tackled in the literature, which includes the UN’s own reports as well as books and articles appearing within a range of academic disciplines. Scholars have also analyzed the many challenges facing peace operations ranging from civilian protection and gender issues to public security and policing, privatization, intelligence provision, and state-building. Overcoming these challenges will require, at a minimum, new ways of thinking about the problems concerned, new ways of organizing the relevant institutions, and getting the would-be state-builders to allocate substantial resources. There are also some important questions that deserve greater attention; for example, what types of non-UN peace operations are most effective, under what conditions, and how they compare with UN operations, or how a world order can be constructed in which the peacekeepers have put themselves out of business.