Geography Compass recently published Alex Colucci on “Geographies of capital punishment: New directions and interventions” in the political geography section of the journal. Alex’s timely article reviews existing conditions and possible direction for political-geographical contributions to the literature on capital punishment. The article ought to be of interest not only for political geographers but also for scholars in other disciplines who are interested in geographical perspectives on justice, injustice, and state-sanctioned punishment. The abstract for Alex’s article can be found below, and the full article here.
A thorough analysis of capital punishment from a political–geographical perspective is lacking in the discipline of geography. This is despite the fact that capital punishment overlaps with numerous geographic approaches, concepts, and areas of study. This study serves as a call to geographers to begin considering capital punishment’s wide interaction and interrelation with developed areas of knowledge in the discipline. Specifically, political geographers stand to contribute in novel ways to wider discussions about capital punishment by analyzing executions relative to contemporary work in geography on violent, legal, and carceral spaces. I first introduce the need for geography’s engagement with this pressing issue. Then, I clarify several terms needed to understand this violent practice. A third section highlights several pathways of development in the critical geographies of capital punishment. It is organized around four broad themes—critically mapping capital punishment, bodies in motion, politics of access, and executing the “other”—connecting capital punishment to developing concepts, literatures, and subdisciplines in geography. The final two sections outline an epistemological approach to the geographies of capital punishment and how legal and carceral geographies might contribute.
Human Geography just published “‘Liberation’ as a political horizon amidst the coronavirus pandemic in the United States,” an essay I co-authored with Zoe Pearson. Our goal was to distinguish between different ideas of freedom and liberation at play in responses to the coronavirus pandemic in the US, notably a neoliberal/libertarian “free to choose” response, which is — for now, at least — hegemonic, and an already-existing alternative of active social solidarity.
Geography Compass recently published Jo Hynes, Nick Gill, and Joe Tomlinson, in an article titled “In defence of the hearing? Emerging geographies of publicness, materiality, access and communication in court hearings” in the political geography section of the journal. Jo, Nick, and Joe reflect on recent developments towards Alternative Dispute Resolution and Online Dispute Resolution in justice systems, which are at present fundamentally changing the relationship between space and law, and which are yet to be significantly explored in the relevant political-geographical literature. The abstract for their article can be found below, and the full article here.
The shift towards dispute resolution taking place outside traditional legal arenas is fundamentally changing the relationship between space and law, presenting legal geography with pressing new research opportunities. This paper explores how the emerging geographies of publicness, materiality, access to justice and communication shed light on the consequences of alternative and online dispute resolution. Crucially, these consequences raise urgent interdisciplinary questions for geography and law. We set out these questions and suggest that legal geography will be best placed to address them by working through some of the practical, applied ramifications of its concepts and perspectives.
A few weeks ago, Geography Compass published Pooya Ghoddousi and Sam Page on “Using ethnography and assemblage theory in political geography” in the political geography section of the journal. Pooya and Sam provide brief history of ethnography in political geography, its latent intersections with assemblage thinking, and the potential committing to working at those intersections. The abstract for their article can be found below.
While the focus on the ‘everyday’ in qualitative human geography has greatly increased the need for, and relevance of, ethnographic methods, Megoran argued that this is particularly true for political geography as it has the potential to challenge its focus on elite discourse, allowing researchers to bring forward multiple voices to investigate the becoming of political events. More recently, assemblage theory has gained traction in political geography, not only because of its capability to include the role of the material and the affective, but also revealing the links between micro‐ and macro‐politics by showing how agency emerges out of complex relations. In the first part of this paper, we present an overview of the recent uses of ethnography in political geography that have not embraced assemblage. Second, we explore the theoretical conceptualisations of, and opportunities provided by, an assemblage approach. Third, we go through the use of assemblage ethnographies in political geography, with a particular focus on Pooya’s experience of research with Iranians in London. In this, he embraced a variety of ethnographic approaches, including ‘auto‐ethnography’, ‘netnographies’, ‘participant sensation’, in combination with observations, participatory workshops and activism. Showing the role of ethnography as a qualitative tool for political geographers to interrogate discursive social constructions, we argue that it holds even more promise for analysing and intervening in the emergent politics of socio‐material‐affective assemblages.
This article considers documentary film as a format for critique and alternative viewings of the geopolitical. To do so, it reviews work in film studies on documentary film, emphasizing the theorization of the documentary ethos and the role of filmmakers in determining how documentaries depict reality. Identifying three points of consonance between documentary films and critical geopolitics, it reviews the geopolitical nature of many topical choices, the importance of authorial intent and creation, and the viewing of documentaries as texts whose interpretation is determined by their creators and viewers. The conclusion advocates for documentary film as a basis for a return to the consideration of format in critical geopolitics.
In this article, I survey the rapidly developing literature on the symbiotic relationship between the education sector and geopolitics. Scholars across disciplines increasingly have studied how schools are implicated in and affected by broader geopolitical goals, particularly related to territorial security and national defense. Given the range of disciplinary interventions from international relations to education studies, discussions on the school‐geopolitics nexus often have been isolated and placed in relationship to other disciplinary conversations, forestalling rich cross‐disciplinary engagements to advance theorizations on the relationship between education and geopolitics. This review article, therefore, places studies on schools and geopolitics in conversation with each other and plots future directions for this emerging subfield. In doing so, I call on geographers to further engage the multi‐scalar analytics of feminist geopolitics, which can generate a more nuanced understanding of the school‐geopolitics nexus by more fully accounting for how geopolitical processes are differentially experienced, negotiated, and contested and for how the education sector itself maintains its own internal logics and contradictions irreducible to the external forces exerted on it.
I lay out a case for recognizing “vulgar territory,” a fusing of superficial categories of spatial sovereignty with identarian rhetorics of belonging. I argue that vulgar territory is composed of two primary elements: first, a simplistic conception of sovereignty as being entirely contiguous with state borders. Second, affective elements of spatial belonging, particularly hope and fear. These two basic elements combine in various ways depending on the particular meanings, images, and emotions that are assembled in particular geohistorical contexts. I show this with a rough typology of “vulgates” of hyper‐bordered and feminized territory by examining recent examples from around the world.
My co-authored article on an artwork that problematizes the enduring significance of concentration camps for Japanese-descended people throughout the Americas is recently published in Cultural Geographies. The article — Questioning the exceptionality of the exception: Annabel Castro’s ‘Outside in: exile at home’ (2018) in Cuernavaca — can be found here and here. Here’s the abstract:
Annabel Castro’s art installation ‘Outside in: exile at home’ (2018) problematizes indefinite detention at the Hacienda de Temixco, in Morelos, Mexico, a facility which functioned as a concentration camp for Japanese immigrants and their descendants between 1942 and 1945. The Hacienda de Temixco, like other sites for indefinite detention of Japanese-descended people in the Americas, was contingent upon making detainees’ lives intelligible for security action as the embodiment of a ‘crisis’. This essay interprets Castro’s artwork and its premiere in Cuernavaca as a creative-geographical way to engage visitors around relationships between past and contemporary distinction-making processes by which particular groups of people are refigured as threats to national security. To interpret the artwork as a creative practice of geography, we (1) briefly describe the artwork’s historical context and (2) analyze its composition and exhibition in Cuernavaca at a time when activists in Mexico and the United States were articulating a sense of solidarity that exceeds exclusionary constructions of threatened national bodies.
This article emerged from my participation in a 2018 panel in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, around the opening of the artwork, Outside in: Exile at home (photo above of my remote participation; photo below from the installation itself). The artist, Annabel Castro, is a co-author on this article and therein details her process and choices.
The other co-author, Sergio Hernández, is a historian at the INAH in Mexico City and has written extensively on Japanese immigration in the Americas. A recent essay of his revisits 20th century concentration camps in relation to systemic racism that inheres in the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
The abstract for Geoff’s article can be found below.
This article argues for time and temporality as a critical dimension in the dialectical articulation of im/migration struggles. To make this case, the article draws on an emerging body of interdisciplinary scholarship on the temporal dimensions of im/migration and of im/migration policing. It then uses this framework to explore a host of anti‐im/migrant initiatives currently unfolding in North America under the geopolitical leadership of Donald J. Trump. Contextualizing these initiatives within a longer genealogy of im/migration and im/migration policing across the continent, the article affirms scholarly characterizations of im/migrants’ desires and aspirations as a “creative force” that “structurally exceed” border controls (The contested politics of mobility: Borderzones and irregularity); but it also argues a need for greater scholarly attention to how the violence associated with im/migration policing generates nonlinear im/migration dynamics and recursive pressures on nation‐state borders and their police apparatus over the long durée. The article concludes by considering the theoretical, political, and empirical stakes of a conceptual shift in emphasis from space to time in the study of im/migration and im/migration policing, and then offers several concrete suggestions for further inquiry.
We have recently published Stepha Velednitsky, Sara Hughes, and Rhys Machold in the political geography section of Geography Compass, on ‘Political geographical perspectives on settler colonialism.’ The review article provides a comprehensive survey of tendencies, past and present, at the intersection of political geography and settler colonial studies, and, more generally, of political-geographical engagement with the settler colonialism analytic. The abstract is below.
Given the centrality of land, territory, and sovereignty to settler colonial formations, it is unsurprising that geographers and other scholars working on such topics are increasingly finding settler colonial studies fruitful in their research agendas. However, work on settler polities in political geography has historically been marked by the present absence of this framework, which has been consequential in terms of circumscribing the kinds of political analysis that geographers can offer. It also limits the nature, depth, and scope of radical critique of violent domination by skirting certain questions about the core drivers of dispossession and responsibility for them. This article examines political geographical engagement (or lack thereof) across each of four themes: population management/governance, territory/sovereignty, consciousness, and narrative, paying particular attention to works which challenge the present absence of settler colonial theory in political geography. We argue that analyzing settler colonial formations as such is essential to conceptualizing their workings and linkages or disjunctures with other forms of empire. Yet this focus also has broader political stakes related to geography’s complicity with racialized state power, violence, and empire, as well as and efforts to decolonize the discipline.