The development of political geography and geopolitics as an academic and research discipline in the Baltic region: the historical contribution of Saint Petersburg University
In this article, we address the little-researched and complicated problems of the genesis, periodisation, and development of political geography and geopolitics as academic and research disciplines across the Baltic region in general and the contribution of Saint Petersburg University in particular. The terms ‘political geography,’ ‘geopolitics’ and the corresponding academic disciplines, as well as the first concepts of political geography and geopolitics, emerged in the Baltic. The Russian and German schools of thought made a valuable contribution to these fields of research. Using the historical, structural-genetic, and activity-geospace approaches, we identify and analyse the major historical, research, and academic paradigms in the development of political geography. In doing so, we consider the case of Saint Petersburg University. These paradigms (state-descriptive, anthropogeographical, state-geopolitical, and activity-societal) differ in their methodological frameworks and thematic priorities. We demonstrate that the term ‘political geography’ and the science it denotes are of Russian origin, having been developed by German scientists during their academic service for Russia. Further, we analyse the contribution of German and Russian researches to the development of the Saint Petersburg school of political geographic and geopolitical thought and describe its current state.