Geopolitical relations in the European middle ages: history and theory

Teschke, Benno (1998) Geopolitical relations in the European middle ages: history and theory. International Organization, 52 (2). pp. 325-358. ISSN 0020-8183

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The European Middle Ages have recently attracted the attention of international relations (IR) scholars as a “testing-ground” for established IR theories. Neorealists, historicizing neorealists, and constructivists dispute the meanings of medieval anarchy and hierarchy in the absence of sovereignty. On the basis of a detailed critique of these approaches, I offer a historically informed and theoretically controlled interpretation of medieval geopolitics revolving around contested social property relations. My interpretation is meta-theoretically guided by dialectical principles. Lordships are the constitutive units of medieval authority, combining economic and political powers and assigning contradictory forms of rationality to their major agents, lords, and peasants. Interlordly competition over land and labor translates directly into distinct forms of geopolitical relations, generating a culture of war. Against this background, I clarify the specific meanings of the medieval “state,” territoriality, frontiers, peace, war, anarchy, and hierarchy before drawing out the wider implications of changing social property forms for IR theory.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Depositing User: Benno Teschke
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:28
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 15:00

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