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|Sir Halford Mackinder|
|Born||Halford John Mackinder
15 February 1861
|Died||6 March 1947(aged 86)|
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
|Known for||"The Geographical Pivot of History"|
|Awards||Charles P. Daly Medal (1943)|
|Fields||Geography, geopolitics, geostrategy|
|Influenced||Nicholas Spykman, Karl Haushofer, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Dimitri Kitsikis, Aleksandr Dugin|
Sir Halford John Mackinder PC (15 February 1861 – 6 March 1947) was an English geographer, academic, politician, the first Principal of University Extension College, Reading (which became the University of Reading) and Director of the London School of Economics, who is regarded as one of the founding fathers of both geopolitics and geostrategy.
Mackinder was born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England, the son of a doctor, and educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Gainsborough (now Queen Elizabeth's High School), Epsom College and Christ Church, Oxford. At Oxford he started studying natural sciences, specialising in zoology under Henry Nottidge Moseley, who had been the naturalist on the Challenger expedition. When he turned to the study of history, he remarked that he was returning "to an old interest and took up modern history with the idea of seeing how the theory of evolution would appear in human development". He was a strong proponent of treating both physical geography and human geography as a single discipline. Mackinder served as President of the Oxford Union in 1883.
He received a degree in biology in 1883 and one in modern history the next year.
In 1887, he published "On the Scope and Methods of Geography", a manifesto for the New Geography. A few months later, he was appointed as Reader in Geography at the University of Oxford, where he introduced the teaching of the subject. As Mackinder himself put it, "a platform has been given to a geographer". This was arguably at the time the most prestigious academic position for a British geographer.
In 1892, he was the first Principal of University Extension College, Reading, a role he retained until he was succeeded, in 1903, by William Macbride Childs. The college became the University of Reading in 1926, a progression that owed no small debt to his early stewardship of the institution.
In 1893, he was one of the founders of the Geographical Association, which promotes the teaching of geography in schools. He later became chairman of the GA from 1913 to 1946 and served as its President from 1916.
In 1895, he was one of the founders of the London School of Economics. At Oxford, Mackinder was the driving force behind the creation of a School of Geography in 1899. In the same year, he led an expedition which was the first to climb Mount Kenya.
In 1904, Mackinder gave a paper on "The Geographical Pivot of History" at the Royal Geographical Society, in which he formulated the Heartland Theory. This is often considered as a, if not the, founding moment of geopolitics as a field of study, although Mackinder did not use the term. Whilst the Heartland Theory initially received little attention outside geography, this theory would later exercise some influence on the foreign policies of world powers.
Possibly disappointed at not getting a full chairmanship, Mackinder left Oxford and became director of the London School of Economics between 1903 and 1908. After 1908, he concentrated on advocating the cause of imperial unity and lectured only part-time. He stood unsuccessfully as a Unionist in a by-election for Hawick Burghs in 1909. He was elected to Parliament in January 1910 as Unionist Party member for the Glasgow Camlachie constituency and was defeated in 1922. He was knighted in the 1920 New Year Honours for his services as an MP.
His next major work, Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Politics of Reconstruction, appeared in 1919. It presented his theory of the Heartland and made a case for fully taking into account geopolitical factors at the Paris Peace conference and contrasted (geographical) reality with Woodrow Wilson's idealism. The book's most famous quote was: "Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World." This message was composed to convince the world statesmen at the Paris Peace conference of the crucial importance of Eastern Europe as the strategic route to the Heartland was interpreted as requiring a strip of buffer state to separate Germany and Russia. These were created by the peace negotiators but proved to be ineffective bulwarks in 1939 (although this may be seen as a failure of other, later statesmen during the interbellum). The principal concern of his work was to warn of the possibility of another major war (a warning also given by economist John Maynard Keynes).
Mackinder was anti-Bolshevik, and as British High Commissioner in Southern Russia in late 1919 and early 1920, he stressed the need for Britain to continue her support to the White Russian forces, which he attempted to unite.
Mackinder's last major work was the 1943 article, “The Round World and the Winning of the Peace,” in which he envisioned a post-war world. He reiterated and expanded his Heartland view of the world, suggesting that the Atlantic Ocean would be jumped, with North America's influence pulled into the region by its use of Britain as an "moated aerodrome". Elsewhere in the world, beyond the "girdle of deserts and wilderness", and the "Great Ocean" region of the Indo-Pacific Rim, was the "Monsoon lands" area of India and China that would grow in power.
Mackinder's work paved the way for the establishment of geography as a distinct discipline in the United Kingdom. His role in fostering the teaching of geography is probably greater than that of any other single British geographer.
Whilst Oxford did not appoint a professor of Geography until 1934, both the University of Liverpool and University of Wales, Aberystwyth established professorial chairs in Geography in 1917. Mackinder himself became a full professor in Geography in the University of London (London School of Economics) in 1923.
Mackinder is often credited with introducing two new terms into the English language: "manpower" and "heartland". In 1944, he received the Charles P. Daley medal from the American Geographical Society, and in 1945 was awarded the Royal Geographical Society's Patron's Gold Medal for his service in the advancement of the science of Geography.
The Heartland Theory and more generally classical geopolitics and geostrategy were extremely influential in the making of US strategic policy during the period of the Cold War. Arguably it continued afterwards.
Evidence of Mackinder's Heartland Theory can be found in the works of geopolitician Dimitri Kitsikis, particularly in his geopolitical model "Intermediate Region". To date, at least one academic study, by Mehmet Akif Okur, has critiqued the main perspective of his works.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Halford Mackinder.|
|Wikisource has the text of a 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article about Halford Mackinder.|
|Director of the London School of Economics
1903 – 1908
William Pember Reeves
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Glasgow Camlachie
1910 – 1922