- Mackinder, Sir Halford
- (1861–1947)A geographer, theorist of Britain’s world role, and a prominent supporter of British imperialism. A polymath, Mackinder studied both modern history and the sciences at Oxford before becoming active in the University extension movement, which attempted to make university-level education more widely available. Interest in geography was considerably heightened in the late nineteenth century by the expansion of the British Empire. After delivering an influential lecture to the Royal Geographical Society, Mackinder was appointed to the first position in geography at Oxford, and went on to play an important role in establishing geography as an academic discipline there and elsewhere.Originally a Liberal Imperialist in politics, Mackinder was converted to the cause of imperial preference, and became a Conservative, sitting as Tory Member of Parliament for a Glasgow constituency from 1910 to 1922. Mackinder’s most influential work was Britain and the British Seas of 1902, which surveyed British history in the light of the country’s maritime position. Britain and the British Seas concluded that Britain, as the center of the global capitalist system and the world’s major creditor nation, would have to remain a strong naval and military power. In making the argument that British capitalism required an empire, Mackinder anticipated by a couple of months the more famous but parallel argument of J. A. Hobson that capitalism caused imperialism; the differences between the two men were as much moral as analytical, both holding that capital export was central to imperialism. Mackinder was also known for arguing that the power that dominated the “world island” of Eurasia would dominate the world, an intellectual articulation of the old rationale for Britain’s traditional balance-of-power policy of opposing potential European hegemons.See also <
>; < >.FURTHER READING:Blouet, Brian W. Halford Mackinder: A Biography. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1987;Mackinder, H. J. Britain and the British Seas. London: William Heinemann, 1902.MARK F. PROUDMAN
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.