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2016: The return of geopolitics

A Global Quest for the Right Side of History

In this seminar, leading scholars chart how we arrived where we are today – and where we might be going next.

It wasn’t so long ago that a notion gained currency suggesting we have reached the end of history, that humanity’s socio-cultural evolution had advanced to a point beyond which it could not develop much further. A quarter of a century later the optimism seems to have vanished. Instead, we are witnessing the return of geopolitics.


The Geography Factor

Walter Russell Mead: The Crisis of World Order: The Return of Geopolitics in the 21st Century

Distinguished Fellow in Strategy and Statesmanship, Hudson Institute

Walter Russell Mead is the Ravenel B. Curry III Distinguished Fellow in Strategy and Statesmanship at Hudson Institute, the ‘Global View’ columnist at the Wall Street Journal and the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and the Humanities at Bard College in New York. He is also a member of Aspen Institute Italy and board member of Aspenia. He has authored numerous books, including the widely-recognized Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World.

Sean McMeekin: Geopolitics and History: Framing the Debate

Professor of European History and Culture, Bard College, New York

Sean McMeekin is a historian who specialises in European history of the early twentieth century, especially regarding the origins of the First World War and the role of Russia and the Ottoman Empire. He is currently Francis Flournoy Professor of European History and Culture at Bard College in upstate New York. His books include The Russian Revolution: A New History; The Ottoman Endgame: War, Revolution and the Making of the Modern Middle East, 1908–1923; and Stalin’s War.

Jeremy Black: Rethinking Geopolitics

Emeritus Professor of History, University of Exeter

Jeremy Black is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Exeter and was previously Professor of History at the University of Durham. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of America and the West at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a senior fellow at Policy Exchange, as well as an advisory fellow of the Barsanti Military History Center at the University of North Texas. In 2000, he was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to stamp design, as adviser to the Royal Mail from 1997.

Josef Joffe: The End of the End of History and the Return of Power Politics

Distinguished Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Josef Joffe obtained his PhD in government from Harvard University, and is now a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. A co-founder of the the American Interest magazine, he serves on the editorial council of Die Zeit in Hamburg and is also on the editorial board of International Security at Harvard/MIT. Joffe’s most recent book is Der gute Deutsche: Die Karriere einer moralischen Supermacht.

Early Empires and Geopolitics

Barry Strauss: Hard and Soft, East and West, Land and Sea: The Greeks on Geopolitics

Professor of Humanistic Studies, Cornell University

Barry Strauss is Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor of Humanistic Studies at Cornell University, with joint appointments in the Departments of History and Classics, and is the Corliss Page Dean Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He has received the Lucio Colletti Journalism Prize for Literature and was named an honorary citizen of Salamis, Greece. His books include The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination and Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine.

Richard Miles: Mythology and the Geopolitics of Early Roman Imperialism

Professor of Roman History and Archaeology and Vice Provost, University of Sydney

Richard Miles is Professor of Roman History and Archaeology and Vice Provost at the University of Sydney. He was previously a fellow in Ancient History at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, and a Newton Trust lecturer in the Faculty of Classics. He has written and presented documentaries for the BBC, including Ancient Worlds and Archaeology: a secret history. His books include The Donatist Schism: Controversy and Contexts and The Bir Messaouda Basilica: Pilgrimage and the Transformation of an Urban Landscape in Sixth Century AD Carthage, the latter of which he co-authored with Simon Greenslade.

Peter Heather: Empire and the Creation of Europé

Professor of Medieval History, King’s College London

Peter Heather is Professor of Medieval History at King’s College London. He has held appointments at University College London and Yale University, and is a former fellow and tutor in medieval history at Worcester College, Oxford. His books include The Restoration of Rome: Barbarian Popes and Imperial Pretenders and The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians.

Morris Rossabi: Geopolitics and the Mongol Empire

Adjunct Professor of Inner Asian History, Columbia University

Morris Rossabi is a senior scholar and Adjunct Professor of Inner Asian History at Columbia University. He has received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Mongolia and fellowships from the Smithsonian Institute and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others. His numerous publications include Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times and China and the Uyghurs.

The Sea, Globalisation and Connectivity

Lincoln Paine: Elements of Sea Power – Past and Present

Maritime historian

Lincoln Paine is a maritime historian, editor, teacher and curator. Paine is the author of several books on maritime history, including The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World and Down East: An Illustrated History of Maritime Maine, as well as scores of articles on a wide range of topics, including the literature of the sea, exploration, museum curatorship, decorative arts, maritime law, trade and naval history.

Roger Crowley: The Portuguese: Pioneers of Globalisation

Historian and author

Roger Crowley is a historian and author who mainly writes about maritime history and the history and culture of the Mediterranean world. His books include Constantinople: the last great siege; City of Fortune: how Venice won and lost a naval empire; Conquerors: how Portugal forged the first global empire; and Accursed Tower: the Crusaders’ last battle for the Holy Land.

John H. Maurer: Alfred Thayer Mahan, Geopolitics, and Grand Strategy

Professor of Sea Power and Grand Strategy, U.S Naval War College, Rhode Island

John H. Maurer serves as the Alfred Thayer Mahan Professor of Sea Power and Grand Strategy at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and is a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s National Security Program. He has received both the US Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award and Superior Civilian Service Award. His books include The Outbreak of the First World War: Strategic Planning, Crisis Decision-Making, and Deterrence Failure.

Philip Bobbitt: Geography, the Connectivity Paradox and the Rise of Market States

Professor of Federal Jurisprudence, Columbia Law School

Philip Bobbitt is the Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence at Columbia University, and Distinguished Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas. He has served in the US government during seven administrations, including in the post of senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council. Bobbitt’s books include The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History and Impeachment: A Handbook (with Charles Black, Jr.).

France and Germany

Michael Broers: The Napoleonic Empire: Global Ambitions; the Creation of a Trans-National Euro-Region

Professor of Western European History, University of Oxford

Michael Broers is Professor of Western European History at the University of Oxford. His research interests are Napoleon and Napoleonic Europe, imperialism, and modern revolutions. Among other books about revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe, he is the author of The Napoleonic Empire in Italy, 1796–1814, which won the Grand Prix Napoléon in 2006. His books Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny and Napoleon: The Spirit of the Age are the first two in a three-volume biography.

Richard Overy: Geopolitics and Empire in the Third Reich: the Issue of Space

Honorary Research Professor, University of Exeter

Richard Overy is Honorary Research Professor at the University of Exeter, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a fellow of the British Academy and a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He has written or edited over thirty books on World War II, the European dictatorships and the history of air power, including The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia, which won the 2004 Wolfson Prize, and The Bombing War: Europe 1939–1945, which was awarded the Cundill History Prize Recognition of Excellence for Historical Literature.

Mikael Wigell: Geopolitics, Geoeconomics, and the Struggle for Supremacy

Senior Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Helsinki

Mikael Wigell is programme director of global security at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Helsinki. He earned his doctorate at the London School of Economics and has been a visiting fellow at the Changing Character of War Centre, Oxford University. He is a former president of the Finnish International Studies Association and his latest book is as co-editor of the volume Geo-economics and Power Politics in the 21st Century: The Revival of Economic Statecraft.

The USA, Russia and the North

Gabriel Gorodetsky: “Continuum” – Persisting Geopolitical Factors in Russian Foreign Policy and Strategy

Quondam fellow, All Souls College, University of Oxford

Gabriel Gorodetsky is a quondam fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and Emeritus Professor of History at Tel Aviv University. He was the founder of the Cummings Center for Russian Studies at Tel Aviv University and served as its director from 1991 until 2007. His published works include Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia and The Maisky Diaries: Red Ambassador to the Court of St James’s, 1932–1943.

Anna-Lena Laurén: Russia and Geopolitics

Moscow correspondent, Dagens Nyheter

Anna-Lena Laurén is the Moscow correspondent of the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter and the Swedish-Finnish Hufvudstadsbladet. In 2003, she was the youngest ever recipient of the Topelius Prize for journalism in Finland. She also received the Publicistklubben prize – the ‘Golden Pen’ – in Sweden in 2015 and the Karin Gierow prize of Svenska Akademien in 2016. She has written several books of the subject of Eastern Europe.

Andrew Preston: American Geopolitics: The Anatomy of a Tradition

Professor of American History, University of Cambridge

Andrew Preston is Professor of American History at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Clare College, where he is director of studies in history. He has published eight books, most recently as editor of Rethinking American Grand Strategy (2021). In 2013, he won the Charles Taylor Prize for his book Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy.

Gregory Feifer: Why did Russia Turn Its Back on International Integration, and What Does it Mean for the West?

Executive director, Institute of Current World Affairs, Washington

Gregory Feifer is executive director of the Institute of Current World Affairs in Washington. A journalist and author, he was previously NPR’s bureau chief in Moscow. His book Russians: The People Behind the Power examines the social behaviour behind the country’s political culture, and his work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post and Foreign Affairs. An associate of Harvard University’s Davis Center, he is currently writing a biography of the Russian politician Boris Nemtsov.

Charly Salonius-Pasternak: Geopolitics of the Nordic-Baltic region

Senior research fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Helsinki

Charly Salonius-Pasternak is a senior research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Helsinki, where his primary areas of research are foreign, security and defence policy. He has been a commentator for TV and radio in several countries, and was previously an international affairs adviser to the Plans and Policy Unit of Defence Command, Finnish Defence Forces, and a visiting lecturer at Tufts University, Boston. 

Geopolitical Hotspots

Noah Feldman: Competition and the Future of Geopolitics

Professor of Law, Harvard University

Noah Feldman is an author, columnist, and the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University, as well as chair of the Society of Fellows at Harvard. Feldman’s work is devoted to constitutional law, with an emphasis on free speech, law and religion, and the history of constitutional ideas. His books include Cool War: The Future of Global Competition and The Arab Winter: A Tragedy.

Jonathan Fenby: Geopolitics with Chinese Characteristics

Chairman, the China team, TS Lombard

Jonathan Fenby is chairman of the China team at the TS Lombard research group. A former editor of the Observer and the South China Morning Post, and correspondent for The Economist and Reuters, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000 for services to journalism. An associate at the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, his numerous books include Crucible: The Year that Shaped Our World.

The Return of Geopolitics

Norman Stone: The 1860’s

Former professor of International Relations, Bilkent University

Norman Stone (1941–2019) was a professor in the Department of International Relations at Bilkent University, Ankara. He was formerly Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford, lecturer in Russian and German History at the University of Cambridge and an adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His major publications include The Eastern Front, 1914–1917, which won the Wolfson Prize for History, and Europe Transformed: 1878–1919.

David Frum: The Empires Strike Back

Senior Editor, The Atlantic

David Frum is a political commentator and a senior editor of the Atlantic. He has served on the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition and the British think tank Policy Exchange. From 2001 to 2002, he served as a speechwriter to President George W. Bush, and later authored a book about Bush’s presidency. His other books include Why Romney Lost (And What the GOP Can Do About It) and Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy. 

Fraser Nelson: Brexit: The Beginning of a New Era?

Editor, The Spectator

Fraser Nelson is a leading British journalist and commentator. He is the editor of the Spectator, a weekly columnist for the Daily Telegraph in London and a regular broadcaster. He is also a director of the think tank Centre for Policy Studies and for the charity Social Mobility Foundation. In 2013, he won the British Press Award for Political Journalist of the Year.