‘As a political geographer - and as a Dane’: The geopolitics and trial of Gudmund Hatt

Henrik Gutzon Larsen (Oplægsholder)

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While often subjected to critical scrutiny, formal geopolitical practices have rarely been put on trial. But this befell the geopolitics of Gudmund Hatt (1884-1960), the professor of human geography at Copenhagen University from 1929 to 1947. Hatt was a key figure in the development of Danish geography and assumed the role of a public intellectual, particularly through his geopolitical analyses as they unfolded in a staggering number of radio speeches, newspaper essays, books and articles during the late 1930s and early 1940s. But this geopolitical profligacy was also the direct reason for Hatt’s hard downfall – academically as well as personally. Hatt was for his geopolitics tried by an extraordinary court for public servant, which found that he had engaged in ‘dishonourable national conduct’ during the German occupation and dismissed him from his chair. Focusing on Hatt’s geopolitics and trial, the aim of the paper is to contribute a Scandinavian perspective to the critical historiography of traditional geopolitics. To this end, the paper examines the central tenets of Hatt’s geopolitical analyses of colonialism and the lurking and all too soon unfolding world war, and analyses the conflict between ‘science’ and ‘politics’ as it crystallised in the trial of Hatt. Hatt’s geopolitical reasoning had many parallels with that of his more well-known great power contemporaries. But in important respects, Hatt’s arguments also differed from much traditional geopolitics. The paper argues that these differences to a significant degree related to the fact that Hatt narrated geographies of world politics from the position of a small and exposed state.
Periode23 sep. 2008
BegivenhedstitelCritical Geopolitics 2008
PlaceringDurham, Storbritannien