Ian Morris Dialogue - Geography is Destiny


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In 2016, the UK stunned the rest of Europe by voting to leave the European Union. The split was close, 48 per cent of people voted to stay but 52 per cent voted to leave the geopolitical and trade alliance. In his book, Geography is Destiny, Ian Morris argues Brexit should not have come as a surprise. Instead he says, this has been playing out for 10,000 years, when the landmass now known as Britain first became an island. Morris argues that Britain is uniquely positioned due to its proximity to Europe while able to stay insular thanks to the English Channel. This wasn’t always the case. For the first seventy-five hundred years, the British were bit players on the edge of the European stage. But by 1500 CE, advancement of ships and governments of the day turned Britain into a worldwide power. By 1900, Britain was beginning to see the sun set on its empire thanks to rapid globalization. Now Morris says, the great question facing Britain now is how to keep up with Beijing and is it “chaps or maps” that make a country great.

Joining the Munk Debates for this Dialogue is Ian Morris, author of Geography is Destiny.


“The title of the book is “Geography is Destiny”. That’s because nothing that was said or done during the Brexit debate was in any way new. It was like it was the latest round in an 10,000-year-old argument that we can trace back to the history and archaeology about “what do insularity and proximity mean” and “what do we do with them?”

-Ian Morris

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