The study of international relations usually occurs in a geographic vacuum. Little attention is given to the spatial context, both local and regional, in which interstate relations take place. A methodology for situating interstate relations in context is proposed. It evaluates the separate effects of national attributes, spatial dependence or neighbor effect, and regional heterogeneity on relations among states. Using the example of African interstate cooperation and conflict between 1966 and 1978, geographic context is identified as a strongly local (first-order neightbor) phenomenon by the use of an index of spatial association for dyadic data. Using the methods of spatial econometrics, the levels of conflict and cooperation for 42 African states in the study could be explained with a high degree of accuracy but individual dyadic relationship require more careful specification of attribute and geographic distance models. Both spatial dependence and spatial heterogeneity are strongly present in the African data and future study of African international relations should carefully examine their geographical context.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Political Science and International Relations