Confucian geopolitics: Chinese geopolitical imaginations of the US war on terror

An, Ning (2017) Confucian geopolitics: Chinese geopolitical imaginations of the US war on terror. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2017AnPhD.pdf] PDF
Download (3MB)
Printed Thesis Information:


This thesis contributes to the literature of critical geopolitics. Based on the exploration of existing studies of critical geopolitics, in this thesis I first argue that this body of literature only presents a partial picture of the world from the perspective of political geographies. While it does offer a solidly critical stance in the investigation of how spatiality influences the exercise of power, it also has certain limitations from ontological and epistemological perspectives. Many studies in this literature suffer from three problems. First, many works have empirically and overly focused on Western states while neglecting both non-Western spaces/places and non-Western geopolitical theories. Second, this body of literature has paid too much attention to media texts rather than the audience who consume those media. In the small amount of audience studies, fans, who are considered to be the most passionate consumer, have always been equated with the audience, thereby ignoring other consumption forces, such as critics and occasional readers. Third, the majority of extant critical geopolitical studies have been concerned with constructionism, which emphasises the significance of human beings in creating a space and thus influencing the exercise of power, while much less attention has been paid to the materiality that underlines the being, or object, playing any of a set of active roles in a narrative.
Those limitations of critical geopolitical studies, in particular the lack of non-Western examples, provide new possibilities for the development of the current field of critical geopolitics. This thesis focuses on Chinese political geographies, a non-Western socio-political background. It indicates that the socio-political context of China has brought potentialities for investigating the complex entanglement between spatial practices and the exercise of power. Specifically, this thesis gives an overview of Chinese geopolitical traditions, hua-yi distinction and Sino-centrism, that have had, and still have, a significant impact upon Chinese political cultures. At the same time, this thesis also reviews the extant literature of Chinese geopolitics. On this basis, it argues that previous works of/in Chinese geopolitical studies have been intimately associated with Western dominance, in particular the classical geopolitical tradition in Western academia, and thus lacked the examination of internal geopolitical voices. These overviews have built two fundamental frameworks for this thesis: critical geopolitics and non-Western geopolitics. Critical geopolitics is the main theoretical framework for this thesis, while non-Western geopolitics is the primary empirical framework for this thesis, although its contribution is not limited to empirics.
Thus I argue that geopolitical space is seldom a pure space controlled by any single force or any single element, but rather a heterogeneous space influenced by a mixed range of forces and factors, including both Western and non-Western forces and values, ruling and ruled forces and values, and socially constructed and material factors. In particular for popular geopolitics, I argue that popular space usually strengthens cultural hegemony, but at the same time it also erodes authority. It is a space of difference and antagonism. Armed with the above perspectives, this thesis will use three chapters of empirical studies to explain how various spaces, forces and values are involved in the exercise of power. Three stories are narrated in this thesis:
(1) Two different – even opposite – Chinese newspaper writings of terrorism and the US war on terror, which can be read as an examination of how Chinese elites practice and perform their geopolitical identities.
(2) Audience imaginations of terrorism and the US war on terror through their readings of Chinese newspapers as mentioned above (1), which can be read as an investigation of how Chinese elitist views are spread and how geopolitical visions are established in Chinese society.
(3) Discussion of terrorism and the US war on terror in the Internet community, in which both Internet users and computer algorithms and bots have a significant impact upon the creation of public opinion.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from Chinese Scholarship Council and the University of Glasgow.
Keywords: Confucian geopolitics, Chinese geopolitics, non-Western geopolitics, critical geopolitics, the US war on terror.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Funder's Name: China Scholarship Council
Supervisor's Name: Sharp, Professor Jo and Shaw, Dr. Ian
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Mr. NING AN
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8158
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 May 2017 13:30
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2024 13:54
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.8158

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year