Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 74 ›› Issue (4): 770-779.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201904011

• Geopolitics and Cultural Tourism Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A proposal for geography of unification: The lessons from German Unification

Jinliao HE1,2(), GEBHARDT Hans3, Xianjin HUANG4, Gang ZENG1,2   

  1. 1. The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2. Institute of Urban Development, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    3. Geographical Institute, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg 69120, Germany
    4. School of Geographic and Oceanographic Science, Nanjing University, Shanghai 210046, China
  • Received:2018-01-11 Revised:2019-03-11 Online:2019-04-25 Published:2019-04-23
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41701180


National unification is a crucial issue for regional stability and national rejuvenation, which is, however, out sight of the mainstream geographers in China. In fact, human geography has a more comprehensive and systematic theoretical framework for interpreting the process of national unification than political science and law studies have, especially due to the rapid rise of political geography. This paper aims to probe into the mechanism and implications of national unification based on a series of theoretical establishments, such as state sovereignty, geopolitics, post colonialism, and new imperialism. We attempt to deconstruct the process of national unification into three-dimensional restructuring of space, namely, geo-political relationship, capital space, and cultural identification. The case of Germany's unification in 1990 represents the process of unification after the collapse of the Berlin wall, which can be regarded, first, as a result of upheaval of international political pattern, say, the end of the Cold War, due to the decline of the former Soviet Union while the rise of neoliberal capitalists. Second, the unification of Germany is a durable process that takes place in economic integration between West and East Germany, during which the capitalist imperialism has been playing an invisible role in speeding up barbarous expansion of capital. Third, the cultural imperialism that has permeated into the people's ideology and perception of state has been chronically influencing the formation of the identity as "one Germany".

Key words: geopolitics, national unification, economic integration, cultural identity