SCREE symposium in Flagstaff, AZ, at Northern Arizona University

A symposium for the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition (SCREE) will begin today at Northern Arizona University as part of the 15th Biennial Conference of Science & Management on the Colorado Plateau & Southwest Region (more information here).

The symposium within the conference is open to the public and being promoted as The Arid Lands and Legacy of John Wesley Powell 150 Years Ago, 150 Years Ahead. History, Science, Culture and Future.

For this evening’s program, I will facilitate a public-facing discussion between Dr. Paul Hirt (History at Arizona State) and Dr. Dan McCool (Political Science, University of Utah) on the Colorado River Basin, its histories and possible futures.

On Tuesday, with my colleague in the Law School at UW, Jason Robison, I will be working as a co-moderator for panels on the horizons of policy and politics around water, public lands, and Native Americans in the Colorado River Basin.

SCREE is an interdisciplinary, public-facing project that looks backward to John Wesley Powell’s 1869 survey of the Colorado River Basin and looks forward to consider its implications for life in the Arid West. More information can be found on the SCREE website: https://www.powell150.org/.

 

 

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“Re-thinking geoeconomics” in the political geography section of GECO

Geography Compass recently published Sami Moisio (University of Helsinki, Finland) in the political geography section, on a reinterpretation of geoeconomics as political geographies of knowledge‐intensive capitalism. ‘Re-thinking geoeconomics: Towards a political geograpy of economic geographies‘ is notable for putting IR theory into conversation with political geography, critical geopolitics, and critical variants of urban and economic geography. The abstract is below.

Geoeconomics is a contested concept. What seems common to recent attempts to define the concept of geoeconomics is that it is almost invariably discussed with relation to geopolitics. In this paper, I seek to provide a reading of “geoeconomics” from political geography that both evaluates geoeconomic claims on their own terms and, moreover, avoids a political/economy binary that even some of the critical approaches tend to fall into. For this purpose, I provide a selective mapping of some of the ways in which geoeconomics has been scrutinized in IR and in human geography and defined with relation to the concept of geopolitics. I single out two main fields of scholarship. First, I introduce a foreign policy tradition that at least superficially draws from the realist tradition in IR. Second, I discuss various materialist and poststructuralist approaches in political geography that can be at least implicitly connected to the term geoeconomics. Third, I develop a reading of geoeconomics as political geographies of knowledge‐intensive capitalism. This perspective turns attention to the geopolitical space economy of capitalism, draws from work in critical human geography, heterodox political economy, and urban studies, and seeks to overcome the separation between geoeconomics and geopolitics.

Posted in Political Economy, Political Geography, Politics | Leave a comment

CFP, ‘Anxieties of Empire: New Contexts, Shifting Perspectives,’ conference at Middlebury College

The Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, at Middlebury College, has circulated a Call for Papers for their Eighth Annual International and Interdisciplinary Conference, ‘Anxieties of Empire: New Contexts, Shifting Perspectives.’ Political geographers would certainly find a welcoming audience at this meeting, as I found in the Center’s 2018 meeting about 1968 (relevant post here). I cut-and-paste the text of the CFP below.

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Eighth Annual International and Interdisciplinary Conference

Call for Papers

Anxieties of Empire: New Contexts, Shifting Perspectives

March 5-7, 2020

The “anxiety of Empire” has been a recurrent idea in studies of colonial discourse, as critics observed how fears about the (in)stability of imperial power were masked by confident assertions of its rightful authority, and by an obsessive drive to reproduce it. Even though the sun may have set on the colonial powers of previous centuries, the power dynamics constructed by Empire and the tangled rhetoric that perpetuated it persist. Hegemonic powers continue to signify and fear people of other races and religions as a debased other who threatens their own cultural integrity, and to systematically attempt to marginalize that other. During the height of European colonialism this marginalization took place largely in the colonies and through concrete policy. Now, however, it is enacted across geographic divisions of center and periphery and in more indirect ways, with dispersed actors and global flows of capital, information, and bodies.

Today, we may think of Empire beyond specific national imperial projects and more as a global system of power dominated largely, but not exclusively, by Western states and economies and global elites exercising political, economic, or physical domination over spaces and bodies. This brand of power is accompanied and sustained by discourses inaugurated by past imperial projects and reformulated for Empire’s more recent incarnations. “Imperial anxiety” may thus serve as a trope and critical framework for examining policy decisions, economic imperatives, subject-formation, and cultural production under globalization.

This conference seeks to bring together scholars from an array of disciplines and fields of inquiry to interrogate understudied modi operandi of Empire and to foreground new critical tools for understanding them. How and where can we locate Empire’s anxiety today? What newly formulated mechanisms of Empire’s reproduction can we identify and theorize in imperial systems of the past as well as in new articulations of Western imperialism, current non-Western imperial projects, late global capital flows, and the ascendance of white nationalism around the world?

Presenters may want to address Anxieties of Empire in the context of the following themes, though others are possible:

  • Contemporary contradictions of signifying, marginalizing, and integrating otherness.
  • Borders, detention centers, and the reformulations of Empire in light of current migration crises world-wide.
  • New approaches to U.S Empire that tie together any of the following: U.S. continental expansion, overseas interventions, slavery, indigenous genocide and disenfranchisement, and mass incarceration.
  • Contemporary relationships between evangelical institutions and local or global hegemonies; religious doctrine that has normalized racial, gender, and sexual orderings of power.
  • Empire, white supremacy, and post-racial discourses.
  • History, discourses, and legacies of Russian and Soviet imperialism from the eighteenth century to the present.
  • Contemporary coloniality in Latin America and the Caribbean across institutions and in cultural production, considering relationships between local and global articulations of Empire.
  • The re-ascendance of China as Empire, with impacts at home and abroad: anti-Muslim re-education centers and the incarceration of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the Tibetan question, economic policies in the Global South.
  • Empire and the body: fitness, bodybuilding, and practices of consumption.
  • Imperial mappings around language (i.e. Francophonie, Commonwealth, etc.), cultural production, and sports.

Those interested in presenting at the conference should send an abstract (no more than 250 words) and a CV by October 7, 2019 to mayer@middlebury.edu

  • The selection process is competitive.
  • All presentations must be in English.
  • Funds are available to support travel and lodging of all presenters.
  • The conference will take place on the campus of Middlebury College, in Middlebury, VT, USA.
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“Politicizing disappearance after Mexico’s ‘historic’ election” in Political Geography

The corrected proof of Politicizing disappearance after Mexico’s “historic” election, an essay with Oliver Gabriel Hernández Lara at the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, is available in Political Geography (find it here and here). This is our first of a series of publications currently in preparation about the intersection of urban development in central Mexico and governance of/through various forms of violence. Here’s the first paragraph:

Andrés Manuel López Obrador and MORENA achieved a significant electoral victory in Mexico on 1 July 2018. López Obrador (hereafter AMLO) became President with the most votes ever by a candidate in that race, and the MORENA coalition won an absolute legislative majority, leaning heavily on the most educated, best salaried segments of the electorate (Parametría, 2018). This can be explained as much by the strength of MORENA as by the incapacity of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its allies to reduce violence in recent years. The PRI, which dominated post-revolutionary politics and returned to power in 2012 in the figure of Enrique Peña Nieto, was defeated even in longtime strongholds. Analysts accordingly characterize this as a “historic” election, echoing AMLO, who described it as Mexico’s “fourth great transformation,” with promises to stand with the poor against a “mafia of power.” For political geographers, however, the first months of AMLO’s government demand analysis less of a break than of the endurance of violence, and the ongoing “disappearance” of vulnerabilized populations, by which MORENA’s electoral victory was made possible.

Posted in Aesthetics, Cities, geografía crítica, Mexico, Political Geography, Posts (uncategorized) | Leave a comment

Humanitarian aid is never a crime: petition regarding No More Deaths and the case of Scott Warren

This petition was circulated by Johnny Finn on the Latin America Specialty Group of the AAG list.

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Hi All,

As I’m sure most of you have heard, geographer and humanitarian activist Scott Warren is currently on trial for several federal felony charges related to his humanitarian work along the US-Mexico border. Here’s a good write-up: theintercept.com/2019/05/04/…. His parents have started a petition urging the prosecutors to drop all charges (see below). Please consider signing.

Thanks,

Johnny

 

Hi,

​Our son Scott is facing three federal felony charges for providing humanitarian aid to two migrants in the southwest borderlands of the United States. We’re asking you to sign this petition demanding that the US Attorney’s office drop all charges against him. He has been charged with two counts of felony harboring and one count of conspiracy for, according to the charging documents, “providing food, water, clean clothes and beds”. If convicted, faces up to 20 years in prison.

Each year persons fleeing poverty, oppression, and violence in their home countries make the desperate decision to confront Arizona’s western desert, one of the harshest landscapes on earth, in search of a better life. For many, the decision ends in a painful and lonely death in the remote reaches of the Sonoran Desert. No one deserves to die in the desert. No one deserves to go to prison for trying to prevent those deaths. The work of Scott and other humanitarian aid v olunteers to alleviate suffering should be upheld as standards of virtue for all of us rather than punished by threat of prison. Help us show the USAO that there is widespread support for humanitarian aid work and that prosecuting our son is both morally wrong and politically unpopular.

Scott’s devotion to his humanitarian work consistently inspires us. We first realized the extent of his commitment when we saw – as parents, felt – the pain he suffered upon encountering the bodies of migrants in the desert, and the deep sense of responsibility he feels to commemorate their journeys both as migrants and as human beings. That the USAO would seek to criminalize compassion and respect for human dignity is unconscionable.

That’s why I signed a petition to Michael Bailey, U.S. Attorney, Anna Wright, Assistant U.S. Attorney, and Nathaniel Walters, Assistant U.S. Attorney, which says:

“The US Attorney’s Office must drop all charges against Dr. Scott Warren, PhD, stemming from his humanitarian aid work in the US-Mexico border region of Arizona. Furthermore, the USAO must also cease prosecution of all humanitarian aid workers and allow them to provide life-saving aid without fear of government harassment and prosecution.”

Will you sign the petition, too? Click here to add your name:

petitions.moveon.org/p/e_eJV_C2UHK

Thanks!

Posted in Activism, América Latina, Mexico, Politics, The Americas, Transnationalism | Leave a comment

“Anthropocene, Capitalocene, … Plantationocene?” in political geography section of GECO

Geography Compass recently published Janae Davis, Alex A. Moulton, Levi Van Sant, and Brian Williams in the political geography section, on a political-geographical approach to “the Plantationocene,” with a particular emphasis on neglected geographies of race and on practices of undoing social and ecological legacies of the plantation. Their article is “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, … Plantationocene?: A Manifesto for Ecological Justice in an Age of Global Crises.” The abstract is below.

The “Plantationocene” has gained traction in the environmental humanities as a way of conceptualizing the current era otherwise nominated as the Anthropocene, Capitalocene, or the Chthulucene. For Donna Haraway, Anna Tsing, and their interlocutors, the concept suggests that our current ecological crisis is rooted in logics of environmental modernization, homogeneity, and control, which were developed on historical plantations. This paper argues that, while there is indeed a need to analyze the ways in which the plantation past shapes the present, current discussions of the Plantationocene have several crucial limitations. Here, we focus on two: first, the current multispecies framing conceptualizes the plantation largely as a system of human control over nature, obscuring the centrality of racial politics; and second, the emerging Plantationocene discussion has yet to meaningfully engage with the wide variety of existing critiques of the plantation mode of development. Thus, we draw on a deep well of Black geographic and ecological work that provides a powerful challenge to the ongoing colonial–racial legacies of the plantation, prompting consideration of white supremacy, capitalist development, and (mis)characterizations of what it means to be human. These approaches not only reveal a more nuanced and comprehensive analysis of the role of the plantation in current global crises but also highlight ongoing struggles and the possibilities of ecological justice in the future.

We are looking ahead to some exciting articles in the coming months. These include pieces on geoeconomics, memory and the city, settler colonialism, and ethnography.

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Support for “Banishing Ghosts and Building Solidarities in Central Mexico After the Long Sixties”

The Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research (WIHR) recently announced its support for a 2019-2020 cohort of faculty fellows. Among the projects supported was my work on the relationship between politics, identity, and space amidst the failures of late liberalism in central Mexico.

The fellowship will facilitate my completion of two papers that I see existing under the title “Banishing Ghosts and Building Solidarities in Central Mexico After the Long Sixties” — one paper from my longitudinal ethnographic project on post-1968 political geographies of young people in Mexico City, and one from my collaboration with Oliver Hernández Lara, a sociologist at Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, around landscapes of disappearance in central Mexico. (Oliver and I have co-authored an essay in this direction for a forthcoming issue of Political Geography, which I frame and circulate in a future blog post.) Together, the proposed articles, for completion in Spring 2020, interpret and amplify aesthetic interventions and political strategies through which activists, artists, and organized communities politicize contemporary violence in Mexico.

Posted in 1968, Activism, Aesthetics, Art, Critical Human Geography, Memory, Mexico, Political Geography, Politics, Social Movements | Leave a comment