Boundaries of the discipline of geography

Stuart Elden posted this story, which tracks word in the tile of over 10,000 dissertations in geography in an attempt to highlight trends in the field. As someone who is not from a geography department but who relies on much of the work conducted therein, I find this particularly interesting. The story itself and the graphics are revealing, but I feel even more compelled to note one of the ‘minor voices’ from the comments section, which asserts:

“David Harvey is a verbose social theoretician who has not done any work in geography in more than four decades. It’s been all Marxism all the time since about 1971. He never has published any empirical studies using statistical analyses. He just offered jabs at others’ work. He’s not even employed in a geography faculty anymore, having self-deported to the Anthropology department at the CUNY graduate center.

Harvey’s career is a manifestation of the feebleness of geography as a discipline.

Pick your territory and advance an understanding of social life within that territory. Leave natural science to natural scientists, leave business journalism to reporters, and leave Marxism to a few museum pieces in the sociology department.”

I may not be all that internet savvy, but I know a “troll” writing under a pseudonym when I encounter one. However, it is actually troubling to imagine this sort of adolescent whining emanating from an actual department, especially for those of us who are standing in the wings, and trying to find a way to share the ideas that we have accumulated by taking our own curving paths. I too am confused as to why geography has fluvial morphologists (or whatever…) down the hall from the Gramscians, why the AAG is so overwhelmingly huge, etc., but have no patience for attempts to only create silos when so much can also be added from people who dare to work at the margins.

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CFP: Urban Theory’s Others

Originally posted on The Rolling Blackout:

Call for Participants
5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies
University of Edinburgh, June 10-12, 2015

Session Organizers: Heather McLean (University of Glasgow) and Leslie Kern (Mount Allison University)
Title: Urban Theory’s Dirty Sweaty Little Others

Planetary urbanism, urban neoliberalism, creative cities, the precariat, gentrification, urban exploration, sustainability, community arts: contemporary urban theory has no shortage of concepts and topics with high levels of academic and popular currency. Falling under the broad umbrella of “critical [urban] geographies” (Blomley, 2006), these topics (perhaps ironically) form the basis of dominant – and intellectually trendy – conceptual models for understanding the city. Some urban scholars have added nuance to this work by calling for research that decentres a global north-south divide, engages more with post-colonial theories, addresses embodiment and emotion, and fosters a feminist ethic of care, reciprocity, and engagement with research ‘subjects’ (McCann and Ward, 2012; Nagar, 2013; Peake…

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Geopolitical Economy: States, Economies and the Capitalist World Order – call for papers

Originally posted on Progressive Geographies:

Call for papers on an interesting theme. See also the Society and Space virtual theme issue on Geopolitical Economy edited by Deb Cowen and me back in 2013.

Geopolitical Economy: States, Economies and the Capitalist World Order

Research in Political Economy, Volume 30 (2015)Edited by Radhika Desai
Submission deadline: 1 October 2014; Proposal Acceptances: 15 October 2014; Final papers due: 1 December 2014
This issue advances geopolitical economy as a new approach to understanding the evolution of the capitalist world order and its 21st century form of multipolarity.  Neither can be explained by recently dominant approaches such as ‘U.S. hegemony’ or ‘globalization’: they treat the world economy as a seamless whole in which either no state matters or only one does. Today’s ‘BRICs’ and ‘emerging economies’ are only the latest instances of state-led or combined development. Such development has a long history of repeatedly challenging the unevenness of capitalism and…

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Melting Snowman video from “The Autonomy of Affect”?

Has anyone ever seen the melting snowman video that Brian Massumi references in “The Autonomy of Affect”? If so, where?

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Atmospheric Walls

Originally posted on feministkilljoys:

There was quite an atmosphere. It might be electric; it might be tense. It might be heavy, light. Maybe an atmosphere is most striking as a zone of transition: an upping, a downing. The laughter that fills the room: more and more. An occasion is being shared; the sounds of glasses clinking; the gradual rise of merriment; we can hear things get louder. Or a sombre situation: quiet words, softly spoken; bodies tense with the effort of holding themselves together by keeping themselves apart. The sound of a hush or a hush that follows a sound, one that might interrupt the solemnity, piercing through it, turning heads.


We might describe an atmosphere as a feeling of what is around, and which might be all the more affective in its murkiness or fuzziness: a surrounding influence that does not quite generate its own form. When an atmosphere is tense, those…

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Central Park y la producción del espacio público | Artículo en EURE

Keith Harris:

Hay un libro que yo tengo y me gustaría leer con el titulo _La città biopolitica_, por Andrea Cavelletti. El fue escrito en italienne pero ha sido traducido como _Mitología de la segurdid: la ciudad biopolitica_.
Quizás puede que le resulte atractiva también?

Originally posted on multipliciudades:

El último número de la revista chilena EURE incluye una contribución mía titulada ‘Central Park y la producción del espacio público: el uso de la ciudad y la regulación del comportamiento urbano en la historia’. En este trabajo utilizo el ejemplo de la creación de Central Park en Nueva York para mostrar cómo nuestras técnicas han empleado históricamente el espacio público a modo de herramienta para el gobierno de las prácticas cotidianas de los ciudadanos y, más concretamente, para regular y corregir los revoltosos y conflictivos comportamientos de las clases obreras. Es interesante observar que esta inclinación hacia una forma de urbanismo “policial” aparece desde los primeros pasos de la disciplina; de hecho, la particular inocencia de los discursos, criterios de diseño y formas de gestión de los primeros reformistas permiten apreciar esos rasgos de forma mucho más evidente que en casos históricos posteriores.

El artículo forma parte de…

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Michel Foucault. Le pouvoir et la bataille (2014)

Keith Harris:

My rough translation of the description of this book:
Power is not what some capture as a beautiful morning, and then lose or give away as events. At the margins of our lives, power is exercised and ceaselessly strives to expand. This was the great lesson of Michel Foucault, marking the end of dreams – those of revolution, of transgression, of prophecy – and the return of seriousness in philosophy. Power reserves surprises for the one who dares to analyze it. Both strong and weak, certain and equivocal, persistent but reversible, power seems perpetually menaced by another thing the opposition reflects in its exercise. How to report this paradox of power without interrogating its place of emergence, or – if one wants to conjure the chimeras of origin – its limit? What is this other of power, which both underpins, jeopardizes, and haunts philosophical writing? We will call this other: battle. It is this obscure region around power, underdeveloped by Foucault, yet presented in this work that we try to approach.
(I welcome corrections, as I am just starting to learn French!)

Originally posted on Foucault News:

chevallierPhilippe Chevallier, Michel Foucault. Le pouvoir et la bataille, Presses Universitaires de France, 2014

Further info

Le pouvoir n’est pas ce dont certains se saisissent un beau matin, pour ensuite le perdre ou le céder au gré des événements. À la lisière de nos vies, le pouvoir s’exerce et se risque sans cesse. Telle fut la grande leçon de Michel Foucault, marquant la fin des rêves – ceux de la révolution, de la transgression, de la prophétie – et le retour du sérieux en philosophie.
Le pouvoir réserve bien des surprises à celui qui se risque à en faire l’analyse. À la fois fort et faible, sûr de sa fin et équivoque, tenace mais réversible, le pouvoir semble perpétuellement menacé par autre chose que l’opposition réfléchie à son exercice. Comment rendre compte de ce paradoxe du pouvoir sans s’interroger sur son lieu d’émergence, ou – si l’on veut…

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