"The need and ability for expansion": Conceptions of living space in the small-state geopolitics of Gudmund Hatt

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TY - JOUR

T1 - "The need and ability for expansion"

T2 - Political Geography

AU - Larsen, Henrik Gutzon

PY - 2011

Y1 - 2011

N2 - Although they are often subjected to critical scrutiny, formal geopolitical practices have rarely been put on trial. One exception is the case of Gudmund Hatt (1884-1960), professor of human geography at Copenhagen University from 1929 to 1947, who was found guilty of “dishonorable national conduct” for his geopolitics during the German occupation. As a contribution to the critical history of geopolitical traditions, this article investigates Hatt as an example of a small-state geopolitician. Particular attention is given to his view of geopolitics as a practice and as an essentially material struggle for Livsrum (living space), and what this made him infer for the great powers and for small-state Denmark. Hatt’s geopolitical ideas had many parallels to those of his great-power contemporaries, but in important respects, his analyses also differed from traditional geopolitics. It is argued that, to a significant degree, this difference is related to the fact that Hatt narrated geographies of world politics from a small and exposed state with few territorial ambitions. This made him emphasize economic relations, efficiency rather than territorial size, and the geopolitical role of the Danish Folk (i.e., the nation). Hatt’s position as a peripheral observer to the geopolitical mainstream may also explain his understanding of geopolitics and living space politics as great power practices.

AB - Although they are often subjected to critical scrutiny, formal geopolitical practices have rarely been put on trial. One exception is the case of Gudmund Hatt (1884-1960), professor of human geography at Copenhagen University from 1929 to 1947, who was found guilty of “dishonorable national conduct” for his geopolitics during the German occupation. As a contribution to the critical history of geopolitical traditions, this article investigates Hatt as an example of a small-state geopolitician. Particular attention is given to his view of geopolitics as a practice and as an essentially material struggle for Livsrum (living space), and what this made him infer for the great powers and for small-state Denmark. Hatt’s geopolitical ideas had many parallels to those of his great-power contemporaries, but in important respects, his analyses also differed from traditional geopolitics. It is argued that, to a significant degree, this difference is related to the fact that Hatt narrated geographies of world politics from a small and exposed state with few territorial ambitions. This made him emphasize economic relations, efficiency rather than territorial size, and the geopolitical role of the Danish Folk (i.e., the nation). Hatt’s position as a peripheral observer to the geopolitical mainstream may also explain his understanding of geopolitics and living space politics as great power practices.

KW - geopolitics

KW - living space (livsrum)

KW - World War II

KW - Denmark

KW - Gudmund Hatt

U2 - 10.1016/j.polgeo.2010.12.006

DO - 10.1016/j.polgeo.2010.12.006

M3 - Article

VL - 30

SP - 38

EP - 48

JO - Political Geography

JF - Political Geography

SN - 1873-5096

IS - 1

ER -