Liberal Selves, Authoritarian Others
Keywords:Critical geopolitics, political geography, mental maps, authoritarism, liberalism, democratization, Orientalism, post-Soviet space
This article examines a dominant vision in contemporary geopolitics, in which the world is imagined as divided between liberal and illiberal political systems, clustering around the two conceptual nodes of “democracy” and “authoritarianism”. It considers how these conceptual nodes are imagined, mapped, and brought to life through writing, policies, and institutions related to democracy promotion. Instead of focusing on the definition of these concepts, this essay scrutinizes the ideological underpinnings of efforts to define “authoritarianism” and “democracy”, and shows how these definitional debates themselves produce geopolitical imaginaries that facilitate certain kinds of intervention in an era of “post-triumphalist geopolitics”.
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