de Blij v. Parker, Part I: The Cores of Europe and The World

It’s not a dispute


It’s a deathmatch:


Now that you’ve clicked “read more,” it’s time to level. I’m aware of no dispute, professional or otherwise, between Geoffery Parker and H.J. de Blij. But it’s interesting comparing the views of two geographers on different parts of the world. Indeed, both are good authors. tdaxp-Commentator and now blogger Catholicgauze reviewed a lecture by HJ de Blij. I also looked at Dr. de Blij’s book around the blogosphere. Likewis, I read Geoffrey Parker’s Geopolitics: Past, Present, and Future in preperation for my international politics literature review and research design.

Still, it’s fun to contrast and compare the works of these two men. In particular, one realizes how much the geographers of today owe to the geographies of yesterday.

For instance, Parker describes a map of world regions from 1962


tracks closely to de Blij’s experience

The world map of international boundaries reveals legality and conceals reality. Everyone who travels internationally knows that some borders are crossed with ease, others with great difficulty. Still others cannot be crossed at all. Commuters cross the border between Canada and the United States, but not the border between the United States and Mexico. You can drive from Barcelona to Berlin without slowing down for customs and immigration, but don’t try driving at speed across the boundary between Poland and Belarus. It is a lot easier to cross the border between Singapore and Malaysia than between China and Vietnam. This phenomenon repeats when you travel by air. Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok is about as routine as Chicago to Toronto, but Shanghai to Moscow (actually, pretty much anyplace to Moscow) can be, no pun intended, a bear.

When I draw a map of the “easy” and difficult” boundaries with which I have some personal experience, augmented by the observations of colleagues who do fieldwork in foreign areas, an interesting pattern emerges. The world seems to be divided into about a dozen realms within which boundaries are usually, though not always, reasonably “easy,” but between which they tend to be tough to cross, surface or otherwise. These geographic realms match the way we think intuitively about the layout of the modern world when we refer to such realms as East Asia, North America, Europe, or Subsaharan Africa. The world may count upward of 200 countries today, but the web of borders reveals regional clusters of states that share cultural histories and a global set of geographic realms that have much less in common

From which he produces


Less similar is Parker’s description of the old concept of “Middle Europe”


With de Blij’s function core of Europe:


Here, they seem to track the debate between whether the European Union should be Carolingia or Latinité – but with the debate centering on German’s future, not France’s.

Latinité: France Looks South



The Alternative: Carolingia
France Looks East

2 thoughts on “de Blij v. Parker, Part I: The Cores of Europe and The World”

  1. de Blij’s core is geoeconomic while Parker’s is spatial-ethnographic. de Blij wins as the geographer of the power-calculus.

    Parker’s _Military revolution_ ( which I have yet to read) is well-regarded BTW

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