Territory, Proximity, and Spatiality: the Geography of International Conflict1

International Studies Review (2005) 7, 387–406

Territory, Proximity, and Spatiality: The
Geography of International Conflict1
Department of Political Science, University of South Carolina
This essay presents an overview of the literature on the ways in which
space, spatiality, and proximity are theoretically important in the
examination of international conflict behavior, for example, to agentstructure models of opportunity, notions concerning diffusion, the
loss-of-strength gradient, and the effects of distance and space. The
opportunity and willingness framework is used to organize both
the literature and the discussion, which builds on Diehl’s (1991)
seminal overview of geography and conflict.

A recent theme of the annual meeting of the International Studies Association was
‘‘The Construction and Cumulation of Knowledge.’’ Both construction and cumulation of knowledge are central to the purposes of essays in the ‘‘Reflection, Evaluation, Integration’’ section of this journal, with cumulation asking scholars to focus
on the ways and the extent to which our collective theory and research endeavor
has built upon itself. One approach to cumulation and integration involves bringing
together the theory and research falling within broad cross-disciplinary categories.
That is, scholars will often categorize their work as reflecting a political economy or
a political psychology approach or perspective. Another arena that has made a
significant contribution to the study of international relations, but has received
relatively less attention, is political geography. This essay is directed toward cumulation, reflection, and integration with regard to political geography and the geopolitical linkages found in the study of international relations generally and
international conflict in particular. In doing so, it will explicitly draw on the work of
geographers and provide linkages between the disciplines of geography and political science.