‘Heritage and the Middle East’ in the political geography section of GECO

Geography Compass recently published Timur Hammond (Syracuse University) in the political geography section, on the intersection of heritage/memory studies and urban political geography, particularly for making sense of urbanization, the urban form, and the production of urban space in the Middle East. The abstract for ‘Heritage and the Middle East: Cities, power, and memory‘ is below.

In a moment of global urban change, migration, and political transformation, the politics and practices of cultural heritage might seem to have little import. However, this paper argues that focusing on cultural heritage in the Middle East provides two key insights with much broader relevance. First, examining how heritage is made (and unmade) shows one way that regions are constructed through the articulation of material and symbolic connections. Second, these regions might be better understood not as containers but as complexes in and in relation to which people articulate and communicate shared meanings. These insights build upon and extend recent theorizations of cultural geopolitics. In surveying an interdisciplinary body of scholarship on Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the Gulf, this article seeks to expand the linkages between geography and Middle East area studies scholarship. It begins by connecting current debates about planetary urbanization in relation to a historiography of the “Middle Eastern city” and suggests that thinking in terms of heritage provides a novel approach for understanding both new and old regional imaginaries. It then highlights three dynamics that make the politics of heritage distinct in this region. It closes with a discussion of the dual role that heritage can play in both contesting and facilitating top‐down projects of dispossession and urban transformation.

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‘Postcolonial geographies and colonialism’s mutations’ in the political geography section of GECO

Geography Compass recently published Ishan Ashutosh (Indiana University) in the political geography section, on the enduring relevance of scholarship at the intersection of post-colonial theory and political geography for understanding dynamics in our contemporary world, in this case, in South Asia. The abstract for ‘Postcolonial geographies and colonialism’s mutations: The geo‐graphing of South Asia‘ is below.

This article builds on postcolonial geography’s concepts of imaginative geographies, worlding, and subaltern geopolitics by applying them to an examination of South Asia’s regional formation in the mid‐20th century. Following a review of debates in postcolonial geography, I analyze the mutations of colonialism as they shaped the dynamics of South Asia in the wake of formal decolonization. First, the Indian subcontinent’s partition inscribed colonial knowledge onto the imaginative geographies of postcolonial nation‐states. Second, South Asia was symptomatic of the Cold War’s process of worlding, as reflected in the division of global space and the forms of knowledge generated by American area studies. Third, decolonization and postcolonial migrations provided subaltern geopolitical configurations of the region in tension with the nation‐state. This analysis emphasizes postcolonial geography’s value in tracking colonialism’s shifts across networks of empire and in the passage from anticolonial movements to postcolonial state territorialization.

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Free access to “Politicizing disappearance after Mexico’s ‘historic’ election”

Political Geography is providing free access to my guest editorial with Oliver  Hernández Lara, previously described in this post from earlier this year, which emerges from our work on ‘landscapes of disappearance’ in the Mexico City urban region.

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Geography Awareness Week at University of Wyoming, with keynote talk by Bradley Garrett

The Geography Club at the University of Wyoming has organized a week of programming for Geography Awareness Week. The national theme this year is “Inspiring the Spirit of Exploration.” Our work at UW complements that theme. A flier for our week of events can be found below.


Notable this year is a keynote talk by Bradley Garrett, the author of several books including Explore Everything.

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Our co-authored chapter on placemaking and location-based mobile gameplay

Another collaboration that began in the same iteration of my American Landscapes course as an article about which I posted earlier today resulted in a published chapter, earlier this year, as part of The Pokémon Go Phenomenon: Essays on Public Play in Contested Spaces. A then-undergraduate student William Heili wrote the paper with me and my colleague in Geography Chen Xu. The book where our chapter appears can be purchased here.

Our contribution to The Pokémon Go Phenomenon characterizes location-based mobile gameplay as a relay in placemaking. We suggest that gameplay works to transform players’ sense of place, away from a sense of place grounded in traditional assumptions of a digital-physical dichotomy toward one informed by experiences of digital-physical convergence.

More information about our contribution can be found here. I am happy to share a pdf of our chapter with anyone who may be interested.

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My new article with Guillaume Proulx on “settler colonial landscapes”

A collaboration that began in my American Landscapes course recently resulted in an article published in the Journal of Cultural Geography (free access here). In this article and in a presentation at the 2019 meeting of the American Association of Geographers, Guillaume Proulx and I have been working to define a cultural-geographical orientation for making sense of the politics of extraction and settler colonial dispossession. With an eye to the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline, we do this in this published work through the concept of “settler colonial landscapes.” This article will be followed by another piece in the coming month, which will explore the relevance of our framework to making sense of these dynamics elsewhere in the hemisphere. The abstract of the Journal of Cultural Geography article can be found below.

“To see things in an objective light”: the Dakota Access Pipeline and the ongoing construction of settler colonial landscapes

Abstract: This paper examines the discourses used by proponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) as claims of universality to which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and allied activists mounted a movement of opposition in 2014–2017. We position our analysis within the historical context of Lakota and Dakota resistance to settler colonialism, which has endured since the nineteenth century. From publicly available texts circulated by key actors in the conflict over the construction of this pipeline project, we identify themes that proponents of this project drew upon to articulate their representations of the land as universal. We suggest that claims like these, when naturalized in practice, have historically materialized in settler colonial landscapes. With the concept of settler colonial landscapes, we focus on ways of seeing and representing places that have facilitated the dispossession of Indigenous people from their territory as well as the construction of a settler-dominated community. In this way, we develop a cultural geographical understanding of the ongoing construction of settler colonial landscapes as a process dependent on claims to neutrality and objectivity.


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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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