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Expanding Geopolitical Economy: A Critique of the Theory of Successive Hegemonies

Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy

ISBN: 978-1-78560-295-5, eISBN: 978-1-78560-294-8

Publication date: 22 September 2015


This paper situates geopolitical economy in light of a broader rethinking of the history of capitalism and international power. It discusses why the ideas of British and American hegemony are problematic. Specifically, it argues that categorizing these powers as hegemonic leaves out a more complex history that theories of hegemony have excluded, and cannot include, else the concept of hegemony would collapse. Finally, I suggest geopolitical economy may be a starting point for writing a new history of capitalism and world order.




In a variety of uneven and combined ways, the ideas in this paper manifested gradually over a period of about seven years, amid work on other topics. The earliest elements of what developed into this paper stemmed from a year spent at York University in Toronto from 2008–2009 where Hannes Lacher and Leo Panitch supervised my MA thesis in which I first started to compare the theories discussed in this paper. They provided more critical comments than a meager master’s student would have liked to hear, so thanks to them for starting something that continued to grow. Aspects were also clarified in an area paper written at SUNY Binghamton, in which Ravi Palat, Fred Deyo, and Walden Bello provided helpful comments on my criticisms of Marxist international relations theory. Sections of this paper were initially presented at the Global Studies Association annual conference June 2014 on a panel with Sean Starrs and Jerry Harris. Thanks to participants in that discussion, and to Sean Starrs for providing critical comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Thanks to Alan Nasser for initially suggesting I review Radhika Desai’s book, which triggered a longer (and I hope continued) engagement with geopolitical economy. Also thanks to Radhika Desai for thorough comments, and for locating several mistakes of interpretation in an earlier draft that saved me much embarrassment. Sébastien Rioux also provided helpful critical comments and encouraging words on the previous draft, and his work on the recent trend toward uneven and combined development in Marxist international relations clarified several things for me that helped with this paper.


Parisot, J. (2015), "Expanding Geopolitical Economy: A Critique of the Theory of Successive Hegemonies", Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 30A), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 155-174.



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