The meaning of geopolitical space
: the importance of Eurasia for Russia and Turkey

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The aim of this PhD project is to conduct a critical geopolitical analysis of the meaning of Eurasia for Russia and Turkey. More generally, it focuses on the importance of ‘space’ and the geographical situation of a country in the formulation of its foreign policy. This project has two aims. First, it aims to depict the place of Eurasia in Russia’s and Turkey’s foreign policy outlook in terms of their regional and geographical orientation. More generally, it is interested in Russian and Turkish self-perception of their place in the international system. On a second level, this project is interested in the concept of ‘geopolitical space’ and the way in which geographical and geopolitical imaginations influence Russian and Turkish foreign policy. This thesis treats geography not only as a fixed entity but also as a discursive practice. Hence, governing elites, policy makers and other actors attach meaning to geographical space through discourse. With regard to foreign policy practice, the geopolitical imagination and personal interpretations of geographical realities by governing elites play a crucial role. Given these considerations, this thesis is grounded in a critical geopolitical understanding of international relations. This thesis studies the meaning of Eurasia for Russia and Turkey and its place in their respective foreign policy. It does so via an analysis of the two countries’ government discourse, that is all public speech acts such as interviews and political speeches. Notions of national identity, geopolitical imagination and how they influence foreign policy are thus at the core of this research project. This thesis postulates that Eurasia emerged as a new object of study following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, because this major historical event and the disappearance of the most important Eurasian empire freed up the interpretative space for new discussions about the meaning of Eurasia. This applies to the case of Russia and Turkey, where Eurasia occupies an important position, while there obviously are diverging interpretations and historical conceptions of Eurasia in the Russian and Turkish contexts. The main argument is that the concept of Eurasia is a central feature in Russian and Turkish government discourse. It is also an instrumental concept in that it allows the attribution of different characteristics to Russian and Turkish foreign policy. As such, Eurasia functions as an important zone for Russia’s and Turkey’s economic development, their political power or role as powerful and influential players in the international system.
Date of Award1 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorRuth Deyermond (Supervisor) & Natasha Kuhrt (Supervisor)

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