“Geography matters because it is specific places that provide the settings for people’s daily lives. It is in these settings that important events happen; and from them that significant changes spread and diffuse. ” (Knox, P. L. and Marston, S. A. (eds) (2001) Places and regions in global context: human geography New Jersey: Prentice Hall Pg. 2) These areas are cities and these cities belong to nations. Within the nation are rules and patterns which can be studied and make up the subject of geography.
From space, the earth appears to be a mass made up of only land and sea; there is no distinction between our multitudes of regions; green plain flows into desert, which flows into sea. This is the natural state of the earth. Geographers describe the earth and in its most basic form this takes the shape of maps which represent a “jigsaw of territories delimited by boundaries. ” (De Blij, H. J. (1974) Man shapes the earth: A topographical geography Hamilton. Pg. 245) The earth is not a single homogenous entity. Currently 192 nations make up today’s global picture (www. countrywatch. com) and these numbers change frequently.
Each nation has a marked area of territory defined by its boundary and within each boundary is a unique set of rules, regulations and people: a unit that can be studied. The current trends of rapid boundary change are due in part to de-colonisation and in part to the spread of capitalism. The fall of communist regimes has led to the creation of many new nation states and has opened the world to global trading. However, analysts such as Ohmae (Ohmae, K. (1995) The End of the Nation State New York: Free Press) have predicted the imminent demise of the nation state and the advent of a borderless world.
Capitalism is at the root of this as it “(shows the) urge to push out beyond the confines of the state in quest of new sources of raw materials, new reservoirs of labour, new investment opportunities and new markets. ” (Scott, A. (2000) Regions and the world economy: the coming shape of global production, competition and political order Oxford University Press Pg. 25) In fact, fears amongst geographers are so high that they are even predicting the “end of geography. ” (Martin, R. (1994) Stateless monies, global financial integration and national economic activity: the end of geography? In Money, power and space (ed.
Corebridge, S. , Martin, R. and Thrift, N. ) Blackwell Pg. 253) Capitalism and the advent of globalisation definitely require a new geographical approach, but as Martin questions “must we now adopt a more globalized framework of analysis, or does the nation state still provide a satisfactory and meaningful entity with which to understand the workings and regulations of capitalism? ” (Martin, R. (1994) Pg. 254) I will first seek to define the nation state and the importance of its boundaries and then examine the impact of globalisation on these boundaries and the result it has on geography as a subject.
A contained unit: nation states. The nation state is a “provider of services, a system of regulations, ideologies, legal regulations and police powers, flows of capital backed up by the threat of discipline and violence. ” (Sidaway, J. (2001) The place of the nation-state. In Human Geography: Issues for the 21st century (ed. Daniels, P. , Bradshaw, M. , Shaw, D. and Sidaway, J. ) Harlow: Prentice Hall Pg. 455) Every nation has a capital and a limit to its reaches. Boundaries define the area and help to understand what happens inside.
These boundaries are not naturally defined though; physiographic boundaries follow the line of topographic features such as coastline or mountain ranges, areas that are mainly uninhabited, but political arguments erupt over the fish in the sea or the source of mineral water. Political boundaries do not conform to linguistic boundaries: English is spoken throughout Canada yet there are substantial areas of French speakers. Although there are areas which have one main religion, minorities appear in almost every region. There are only groups of people, majorities in areas.