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Ratzel's biogeography: a more-than-human encounter

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Understanding the social and political in relation to fabrications of earth/life has been one of geography’s most enduring concerns. Friedrich Ratzel’s Lebensraum essay, subtitled ‘a biogeographical study’, is an early exposition of how relations between the bio and the geo are politically molten. Yet his oeuvre, whilst of interest to political geographers, has been overlooked in the recent proliferation of work on the earth/life nexus in more-than-human geography. To this end, this commentary asks what it might mean to read Ratzel’s essay in light of attempts to articulate and specify the cartographies of life. Three key themes are highlighted that resonate with contemporary more-than-human approaches: the spatial ontologies of animal life, animals’ mobilities and cartographies of the living world. More specifically, this commentary expands upon Ratzel’s notion of the oecumene and argues that it offers up critical purchase for diagramming animals’ ontologies in ways sensitive to geographical concerns with nonhuman difference, lifeworlds and movement. A brief conclusion identifies avenues for future research and engagement.



4406 Human Geography, 44 Human Society

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Journal of Historical Geography

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Elsevier BV
British Academy (Postdoctoral Fellowship Award No. pf140038).