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2012/3 (No 146-147)

  • Pages : 336
  • ISBN : 9782707174512
  • DOI : 10.3917/her.146.0139
  • Publisher : La Découverte

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This article is a precise and critical analysis of Mackinder’s famed 1904 article “The Geographical Pivot of History.” Even though he never used the term geopolitics, Mackinder is still considered to be its founder. This is why an analysis of his article is in order. The article’s renown rests on the use of the term heartland, considered today to be the central concept of Mackinder’s theory. It evokes a region that is the heart of the territory of a nation, but further in the text also takes the meaning of “central region,” associated with the idea of Eurasia and a much vaster expanse of land than that of heartland. The second term that is considered the other major concept of Mackinder’s theory is that of pivot. But this term poses a problem when applied to the immense plains of Eurasia, because these cannot logically be considered as pivots. To explain the power of the Russian Empire, Mackinder gives more importance to a fundamental aspect of geology and physical geography—the extent of the Eurasian plate. He tends to minimize the role of the political and military structures that rendered possible the conquest and control of this immense territory for more than three centuries, all the while trying to extend it even more. Mackinder’s thesis is therefore strictly determinist and fairly rudimentary.


  1. The Mongol Invasions
  2. The Eurasian Mass and Its Sea-Accessible Periphery
  3. The Development of the Russian Empire
  4. Only in His Conclusion Does Mackinder Outline a Thesis
  5. Mackinder after His Too-Celebrated Lecture
  6. All the same, a Celebrity Who Remains Great at the Beginning of This Century

To cite this article

Yves Lacoste, “ « Le pivot géographique de l'histoire » : une lecture critique ”, Hérodote 3/2012 (n° 146-147) , p. 139-158
URL : www.cairn.info/revue-herodote-2012-3-page-139.htm.
DOI : 10.3917/her.146.0139.

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