AAG CFP: Big projects, mega complexity, gigantic impacts

CfP AAG 2015 – Chicago

Big projects, mega complexity, gigantic impacts

Christopher Gaffney (University of Zürich)
Eva Kassens-Noor (Michigan State)
Martin Müller (University of Zürich)
Mark Wilson (Michigan State)

Project and event gigantism have been part of human history for millennia. Historical geographers and archaeologists have long had an interest in large-scale monuments, transportation and defense infrastructure, religious centers, agriculture, and city-building projects. These complex human endeavors have always required the mobilization of wealth, power and labor of complex societies in order to be accomplished.

Recent years have seen a renewed surge in mega-projects, both in emerging economies and in the global North. Geographers and others have examined the multi-faceted nature of gigantism in large-scale projects (e.g. Altshuler and Luberoff 2003; Brunn 2011; Flyvbjerg, Bruzelius, and Rothengatter 2003), considering transportation systems (Rodrigues 2013), the political economy of hydroelectric dam construction (Webber 2012), the regional impacts of container ports (Veenstra and Notteboom 2011), the ecological implications of canal system expansion and development (Carse 2014; Meyer and Huete-Pérez 2014) and the urban, ecological, and political impacts of mega-events (Kassens-Noor 2012; Gaffney 2013; Müller 2014; Wilson 2013), among other large scale endeavors.

This session invites contributions that probe the rationales, governance, problems and impacts of large-scale projects and ways of reforming or resisting them. Who launches and pursues large-scale projects? For what reasons? What goes wrong and why? How can the status quo be changed and improved? The session aims to identify shared patterns but also crucial differences across cases, seeking to advance theorizing on large-scale projects.

We welcome papers that consider a broad range of large-scale projects with spatial implications, including but not limited to transport and energy infrastructure, urban (re-)development projects or mega-events.

If you are interested in participating in this session, please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to Christopher Gaffney (christopher.gaffney@geo.uzh.ch) by 15 October 2014. We will notify the authors of selected papers by 20 October 2014 and ask them to register on the AAG website and send us their pin by 01 November 2014.


  • Altshuler, Alan, and David Luberoff. 2003. Mega-Projects: The Changing Politics of Urban Public Investment. Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution.
  • Brunn, Stanley D., ed. 2011. Engineering Earth: The Impacts of Megaengineering Projects. Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Carse, Ashley. 2014. Beyond the Big Ditch: Politics, Ecology, and Infrastructure at the Panama Canal. Infrastructures Series. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Flyvbjerg, Bent, Nils Bruzelius, and Werner Rothengatter. 2003. Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Gaffney, Christopher. 2013. “Between Discourse and Reality: The Un-Sustainability of Mega-Event Planning.” Sustainability 5 (9): 3926-3940.
  • Kassens-Noor, Eva. 2012. Planning Olympic Legacies: Transport Dreams and Urban Realities. Routledge.
  • Meyer, Axel, and Jorge A. Huete-Pérez. 2014. “Nicaragua Canal Could Wreak Environmental Ruin.” Nature 506 (7488): 287–89.
  • Müller, Martin. 2014. “The Topological Multiplicities of Power: The Limits of Governing the Olympics.” Economic Geography 90 (3) 321-339.
  • Rodrigue, Jean-Paul. 2013. The Geography of Transport Systems. Third edition. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • Veenstra, Albert, and Theo Notteboom. 2011. “The Development of the Yangtze River Container Port System.” Journal of Transport Geography 19 (4): 772–81.
  • Webber, Michael. 2012. “The Political Economy of the Three Gorges Project: Political Economy of the Three Gorges Project.” Geographical Research 50 (2): 154–65.
  • Wilson, Mark. 2013. “The Human Side of Mega-Events.” In Brunn, Stanley.  Engineering Earth? the impacts of Megaengineering projects. Dordrecht, NY: Springer.

AAG CFP: Reconfigurations of the State in an Era of Global Climate Change

AAG Annual Meeting CFP
Chicago, IL, April 21-25th – 2015

Reconfigurations of the State in an Era of Global Climate Change
Paper Session
Alejandro Camargo (Department of Geography, Syracuse University)

Christian Parenti (Global Liberal Studies, New York University)

Global climate change is increasingly creating a generalized condition of insecurity, uncertainty, and unending crisis.  Elevated temperatures and sea levels, intense droughts, fires, torrential rains, and a distressed atmosphere threatened by carbon emissions are among the myriad socio-ecological disruptions that constitute an imminent planetary crisis.  In some places this global crisis has given rise to new forms of political, economic, and environmental conflicts. In others, however, it has exacerbated already existing inequalities, vulnerabilities, and unequal power relations.  A number of authors have pointed out how these situations of disruption and crisis have become key scenarios for the reproduction of capital.  Private companies, investors, and the humanitarian aid industry often capitalize on social suffering and environmental crises to increase their revenues.  Furthermore, recent scholarship has also revealed how climate-related crises are increasingly connected to the intensification of violence and civil conflicts.  The role of the state in this scenario, however, has received short shrift.  Emergencies and crises generally demand the intervention of the state, which is expected to step in and provide solutions.  These critical situations are strategic opportunities for the reconfiguration of the state in which states can become stronger or weaker.  During climate catastrophes, states often attempt to reform their institutions, mobilize their bureaucracies, create different forms of territorial control, reaffirm their sovereignty, and implement far-reaching—and sometimes undesirable—interventions in affected communities and landscapes. This session aims at bringing together papers that broadly address the reconfigurations of the state in times of global climate change.

If you are interested in taking part of this paper session please send your abstract (250 words max) to Alejandro Camargo (facamarg@syr.edu) by October 15th, 2014.

PGSG student travel award

Grads and faculty advisors : please take note that the PGSG’s annual student travel award competition deadline is 15 December this year!

Description: The Political Geography Specialty Group (PGSG) student travel awards will be given to support graduate student travel to present a paper on a political geography topic at the PGSG pre-conference and/or the AAG annual meeting. This competition is open to all MA/MS/PhD students and up to ten (10) awards of $200.00 will be given each year.

Guidelines are as follows:

1. The competition is open to all MA/MS/PhD students who are currently enrolled in a Geography degree program and are registered to attend the PGSG pre-conference and/or the AAG annual meeting.

2. Students should submit electronic copies of the following documents to the PGSG Student Travel Award Committee Chair (see contact) by 15 December 2014:  a) their paper title and abstract; b) confirmation of conference registration; c) a brief cover letter stating where they are enrolled, what degree they are pursing, whether they are a member of the PGSG, and the details for any other travel funds they have been awarded.

3.  Entries must be on a topic in political geography. The PGSG student travel award committee will prioritize applications based on these criteria: a)  PGSG student members will be given preference; b) students with no funding or less funding will be given preference; c) students participating in the PGSG pre-conference will be given preference; d) the potential contribution of the student’s presented research to the field of political geography will be considered.

4. Award winners will be notified no later than 15 January 2015.

5. All monetary prizes are awarded at the discretion of the Student Travel Award Committee. If fewer than ten acceptable entries are made the committee can decide to give less than ten awards in any given year.

6. Any questions pertaining to eligibility will be resolved by the Student Travel Award Committee.

Student Travel Award Committee:
Katrinka Somdahl-Sands (Chair), Rowan University, somdahl-sands@rowan.edu
Kara Dempsey, DePaul University, kdempse5@depaul.edu
Cindy Sorrensen, Texas Tech University, cynthia.sorrensen@ttu.edu

PGSG Chicago Pre-conference CFP

The PGSG and the Department of Geography at DePaul University are pleased to announce that the 28th Annual PGSG Pre-conference for the AAG Chicago meeting will be held at DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus on Monday, 20 April 2015. The paper sessions will take place during the day and the PGSG will host a group dinner for pre-conference participants during the evening.

Paper submissions: Please submit a paper title and a 200 word abstract, along with author contact details (name, institutional address, email address), to Reece Jones and Natalie Koch at aag.pgsg@gmail.com no later than 1 February 2015.

Fees: As with our past pre-conferences, there will be a nominal $20 registration fee for faculty only.


Local coordinator: Kara Dempsey (kdempse5@depaul.edu)
Co-organizers: Reece Jones (reecej@hawaii.edu), Natalie Koch (nkoch@maxwell.syr.edu)


Undergrad paper award deadline approaching

A reminder that the deadline for the PGSG undergraduate student paper competition is June 15. The guidelines are here:


Description: The undergraduate student paper award will go to the best paper on a political geography topic written by an undergraduate student, regardless of membership in the AAG or participation at the Annual Meetings. Papers submitted for awards to other AAG-affiliated organizations are not eligible. This competition is open to all undergraduate students who have written a research paper or senior thesis on a topic in political geography.

Undergraduate Paper Award Committee
Emma Norman (Chair), Michigan Technological University, esnorman@mtu.edu
Stephanie Wilbrand, University of Wisconsin-Madison, stephaniewilbrand@gmail.com
Vincent Artman, University of Kansas, vartman@ku.edu

Guidelines are as follows:

1. The competition is open to all undergraduate students, or those who have completed an undergraduate degree since the last award has been made.

2. The entries must be research papers or theses, and not reviews. Papers must be longer than 10 double-spaced pages plus bibliography, but less than 15 pages plus bibliography. Margins must be 1” on all sides and 12 point font must be used.

3. Entries must be on a topic in political geography.

4. Each university may only submit one undergraduate paper or thesis for consideration.

5. Electronic copies of papers must be received by all three members of the PGSG’s Undergraduate Student Paper Award Committee Chair by June 15, 2014 to be included in that year’s competition. These submissions should be made by the student’s advisor or the department chair, which will indicate that the submission is the department’s chosen applicant (see #4 above).

6. Submissions will be judged on their written clarity, methodological and theoretical soundness, and their contributions to research in political geography.

7. All monetary prizes are awarded at the discretion of the Undergraduate Student Paper Award Committee.

A. Up to three Honorable Mention awards will be given (award of $50 each).

B. The winner of the Award will receive $100.

C. If no acceptable entries are made the committee can decide to not give the award in any given year.

8. The results of the Student Paper Award competitions will be announced in the fall PGSG newsletter. The awards will be formally announced at the PGSG business meeting and the cash awards and registration reimbursement will be distributed to the awardees at that time. The awardees’ names and paper titles will be forwarded to the AAG for publication in the AAG Newsletter.

9. Any questions pertaining to eligibility will be resolved by the Undergraduate Student Paper Award Committee.

UO-IGU Meeting: Political Geography & the Environment

From June 19-21, 2014, the Department of Geography at the University of Oregon will host a meeting of the IGU Commission on Political Geography in Eugene, Oregon, focused on the political geography of the environment. The conference promises to be an interesting gathering, featuring plenary addresses by Simon Dalby and Shannon O’Lear, papers from a range of participants coming from different countries, and a field trip to the Oregon coast.

The deadline for abstract submission is April 20.
For additional information about the conference, including how to register, submit an abstract, and reserve a hotel room, visit the meeting website.

Congratulations to 2014 award winners

Congratulations to this year’s PGSG award winners!

Julian Minghi Outstanding Research Award: Adam Moore, UCLA for Peacebuilding in Practice

Stanley D. Brunn Young Scholar Award: Natalie Koch, Syracuse University

Richard Morrill Public Outreach Award: Sarah Koopman, Wilfrid Laurier University

Graduate Student Paper Award: Ian Rowen, University of Colorado, Boulder

Dissertation Enhancement Award: Galen Murton, University of Colorado, Boulder

Please also keep in mind that the Undergraduate Student Paper Award deadline is June 15, 2014 – so if you see any great papers at the end of this semester, please encourage your students to submit them for consideration.

Welcome to the new board members

After a successful AAG week in Tampa, PGSG would like to thank incoming board and committee members for serving:

Afton Clarke-Sather, Faculty Representative
University of Delaware

Sapana Doshi, Faculty Representative
University of Arizona

Kara Dempsey, Student Travel Award Committee
DePaul University

Cindy Sorrensen, Student Travel Award Committee
Texas Tech University

Fiona Davidson, Dissertation Enhancement Award Committee
University of Arkansas

Karen Culcasi, Graduate Student Paper Award Committee
West Virginia University

Emma Norman, Undergraduate Student Paper Award Committee
Michigan Technological University

Stephanie Wilbrand, Undergraduate Student Paper Award Committee
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Elyse Gordon, Student Representative
University of Washington

PGSG would also like to thank everyone who attended the pre-conference at USF, and our local coordinators in the School of Geosciences, Jayajit Chakraborty and Pratyusha Basu!

CFP: East – West Borderscapes (Trieste / Koper-Capodistria)



Trieste, Italy / Koper-Capodistria, Slovenia

October 2 – 4, 2014

From October 2 – 4, 2014, the Association of Slovenian Geographers (ZGS), in co-operation with the Association of Italian Geographers (AGEI), the University of Trieste (UNITS), Italy and the University of Primorska (UP) will host the meeting of the IGU’s Commission on Political Geography (IGU CPG).  The conference will elaborate on spatial imprints of WW 1 on the European border areas. The meeting will consist of sessions and one-day excursion (including field-work related sessions). The conference locations are Trieste, Italy and Koper-Capodistria, Slovenia; the excursion will take participants to the WW 1 Isonzo battle fields, the EU award winning WW 1 museum in Kobarid, Slovenia and to places where post-WW 1 imprints of the have left substantial marks in the natural, cultural and political landscape of Europe. After the closing of the IGU CPG conference a round table discussion on Dark Tourism is envisioned at the location of the Faculty of Tourism Studies TURISTICA in Portorož-Portorose, Slovenia.

Subject: The centennial of the beginning of WW 1 is the occasion to discuss the war tragedies and multiple effects of the post-WW1 political decisions. The spatial arrangements after WW1 have strengthened new political players in Europe and have produced new spaces of confrontation. For example, in the Alps-Adriatic Europe the fragmentation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the geographical enlargement of the Italian Kingdom, and the evolution of Central European nation-states, induced by the US democratic ideals, have produced new borders and a variety of states on Europe’s political map. The post-WW 1 peace settlements in Europe are by some academicians and politicians still considered as unjust. Ethnic, economic and political boundaries do not coincide; the quest for territory was for a substantial amount of time the urge of irredentist fascist, national-socialist and communist regimes in the post-WW1 and WW2 era.

Building on a tradition of previous borderscape conferences, we are looking forward to examine the relationship between spaces of governance in places where substantial change has taken place (as the result of the winning powers). This conference will explore how the post-WW 1 order has impacted the European geographical space and their cultural substance. Political and cultural geography will be the mainframe of the conference. The conference should particular identify major arrangements which have been and still are experienced in the European border areas:

  • Spatial and political imprints of past empires;
  • Spatial and political imprints of post-WW1 nationalism;
  • Imprints of WW1 and post-WW1 arrangements in contemporary politics, culture and economy.

Case studies from all European borderscapes are welcome. The discussion, and in particular the excursion, will take into consideration the reality of the Alps-Adriatic region where the “Battle of Caporetto” (Kobarid) became synonymous for a total defeat of a nation (for a short while). Other similar European topics and, in particular cross-cultural comparisons of imprints left in border spaces by war and post-WW 1 arrangements are welcome. We would also like to place the attention to the general political, ethnic and economic spheres resulting out of brutal facts as closed borders have for decades separated nations. Illegal migration turned, with the loosening of the regimes, into shopping tourism and finally into tourism with motives related to the WW 1 confrontation areas and arrangements resulting out of it. Key-note speakers will be invited.

Additional information about logistics and registration is available here.

Please show interest to attend the conference EAST-WEST BORDERSCAPES. IMPRINTS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR ON THE EUROPEAN BORDER LANDSCAPES (Trieste, Italy / Koper-Capodistria, Slovenia October 2 – 4, 2014) by filling out and returning the form linked above (title of your paper and abstract) and by writing/E-mailing it to: anton.gosar@guest.arnes.si and/or zillis@units.it.

Student awards deadline soon!

The PGSG student awards deadline is rapidly approaching: Friday, March 14.

1) MA and PhD student paper awards. These should be 15 pages or less and should be emailed to the graduate student paper award committee.

2) The Dissertation Enhancement Award is granted annually to PGSG student members and includes $1000.00 to support dissertation research (can be used for future or past expenses). Interested students should email an 8-10 page mini-dissertation proposal to the Dissertation Awards Committee.

The full details on the submission process are here. A list of past award recipients is available here.