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Volume 68, issue 1
Geogr. Helv., 68, 37–44, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-68-37-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Making European geographies

Geogr. Helv., 68, 37–44, 2013
https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-68-37-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Standard article 30 May 2013

Standard article | 30 May 2013

On the genealogy of Lebensraum

C. Abrahamsson C. Abrahamsson
  • Department of Human Geography, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Abstract. The aim of this paper is to outline a genealogy of the concept of Lebensraum. It will focus on the way that Darwinian evolutionary thought was translated into 19th Century German geography, particularly in the work of Friedrich Ratzel and his formulation of the concept of Lebensraum. The paper argues that the Ratzelian Lebensraum must be viewed as a concept aimed towards a synthesis between biogeography and anthropogeography. The paper will also trace how the Ratzelian Lebensraum came to play a vital part in Rudolf Kjellén's later formulation of an organic theory of the state. Here the paper will focus specifically on Kjellén's organic taxonomy of the political system. The paper will end with a short discussion on the synthetic aspects of the Lebensraum concept, focusing on the seemingly divergent ways that the Lebensraum concept was mobilised within National socialist ideology and planning.

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