CfP: Nations beyond Nationalism

Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers

AAG 2018 – New Orleans, April 10-14, 2018


Nations Beyond Nationalism:

Producing Nation-ness at Multiple Scales

Session Organizers: Dylan Brady (University of Oregon) and Jennifer Titanski-Hooper (Francis Marion University)

Discussions of nationalism as a political movement often overshadow and displace discussions of nations as multi-scalar social, cultural, and political entities. Beyond even banal nationalism (Billig 1995), powerful sociomaterial processes produce the nation as an invisible and ubiquitous backdrop to everyday life (Lefebvre 1991; Brenner and Elden 2009). This session seeks to draw together papers that examine the subtler ways that the nation is embodied, produced, transformed and institutionalized, apart from the political movement of nationalism.

Agnew’s identification of the territorial trap (1994) exposed the limits and failures of the nation-state as a geopolitical ideal. While a static, bounded territorial unit is the target of the national project, producing the nation is itself a series of dynamic, contingent and relational network processes at multiple scales (Jones and Fowler 2007; Merriman and Jones 2016).  Nations are embodied via the construction of multiple, intersecting gender, race, and class identities (Dowler and Sharp 2001; Fluri 2008; Yuval-Davis 1997). This session seeks to investigate the concrete processes which work to actualize and contest the abstract ideal of the nation-state.

Momentarily decoupling the nation from nationalist rhetoric allows us to trace the divergent and complex processes that contribute to nation-ness. Military service (Conversi 2007), infrastructure projects (Akhter 2015), public education, media and other social institutions (Edensor 2004) all work to integrate people and space into the nation-state. Yet each of these “nation effects” (cf. Painter 2006) has a distinct geography, articulating together particular groups at specific scales—and often creating fractures within the nation even as they knit it together.

This session seeks to better understand the nation by engaging with these material processes of nation-building. How are nations assembled (and contested) in localities, regions and the globe? How are other infrastructural, technological, economic, social and cultural processes linked into the production of nation-ness? To what extent can nation-building escape the confines of nationalism, or subvert it? We invite empirically-based paper submissions that investigate how material practices create multiple senses of nation-ness.

1) Call for papers: Please submit an abstract of 250 words and program identification number (PIN) to Dylan Brady ( and Jennifer Titanski-Hooper ( October 25th.

2) In addition to paper presentations, the session organizers hope to conclude the session with a panel discussion on the session’s themes. If you are interested in joining this discussion, please send your name, PIN, and a brief sketch of your thoughts to the session organizers.


Works Cited:

Agnew, John. 1994. “The Territorial Trap: The Geographical Assumptions of International Relations Theory.” Review of International Political Economy 1 (1): 53–80. doi:10.2307/4177090.

Akhter, Majed. 2015. “Infrastructure Nation: State Space, Hegemony, and Hydraulic Regionalism in Pakistan.” Antipode, April, 1–22. doi:10.1111/anti.12152.

Billig, Michael. 1995. Banal Nationalism. London; Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Brenner, Neil, and Stuart Elden. 2009. “Henri Lefebvre on State, Space, Territory.” International Political Sociology 3 (4): 353–377. doi:10.1111/j.1749-5687.2009.00081.x.

Conversi, Daniele. 2007. “Homogenisation, Nationalism and War: Should We Still Read Ernest Gellner?” Nations & Nationalism 13 (3): 371–94. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8129.2007.00292.x.

Dowler, Lorraine, and Joanne Sharp. 2001. “A Feminist Geopolitics?” Space & Polity 5 (3): 165–76. doi:10.1080/13562570120104382.

Edensor, Tim. 2004. “Automobility and National Identity Representation, Geography and Driving Practice.” Theory, Culture & Society 21 (4–5): 101–120.

Fluri, Jennifer L. 2008. “Feminist-Nation Building in Afghanistan: An Examination of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).” Feminist Review 89 (1): 34–54. doi:10.1057/fr.2008.6.

Jones, Rhys, and Carwyn Fowler. 2007. “Placing and Scaling the Nation.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 25 (2): 332–54. doi:10.1068/d68j.

Lefebvre, Henri. 1991. The production of space. Oxford; Cambridge: Blackwell.

Merriman, Peter, and Rhys Jones. 2016. “Nations, Materialities and Affects.” Progress in Human Geography, May, 309132516649453. doi:10.1177/0309132516649453.

Painter, Joe. 2006. “Prosaic Geographies of Stateness.” Political Geography 25 (7): 752–74. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2006.07.004.

Yuval-Davis, Nira. 1997. Gender and Nation: SAGE Publications. SAGE.