AAG CFP: Critical Geographies of US Farm Bill Policy & Politics

CFP, AAG 2015 – Chicago

Critical Geographies of US Farm Bill Policy & Politics

The United States ‘Farm Bill’ gets re-debated, re-written, and re-authorized by Congress every 5-8 years. This omnibus legislation authorizes nearly US$100 billion of annual spending on a vast range of federal supports and services, including nutrition assistance, commodity payments, specialty crop supports, agricultural extension, soil conservation, grain reserves (or their dismantling), agricultural research, crop insurance, local food marketing, food aid, biofuels, and agricultural trade (including WTO compliance—or lack thereof) among many other topics. This massive piece of legislation directly impacts growers, eaters, communities and landscapes throughout the US, and indirectly impacts agro-food landscapes and systems globally as the hegemon’s shadow is impossible to avoid, whether it be in the form of subsidized grain exports, foreign agricultural assistance, or policy mimicry.  While primarily occupying the attention of narrow sectional interests for many generations, the Farm Bill is finally beginning to generate broader public interest and political engagement, engaging diverse voices in debates around the optimal role of government in fostering a food system that feeds the nation in a socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable manner.

This panel seeks to gather geographers studying the domestic and international dimensions of the US Farm Bill—both historically and contemporarily. Specifically, we wish to create a critical-geography-focused forum to explore the many socio-spatial causes, consequences and possibilities of US agricultural policy and politics—from monopolistic political economy to rural-urban political alliances, from the political ecology of dead zones to migrant labor. Both the making of US agricultural policy and its implications demand critical and collective analysis.  How is it that this amalgam of policies, full of contradictions, is continually made and remade?  Why is reform always seemingly “around the corner”? How do policy goals get translated and transformed in the policy making and implementation process? To begin to answer these questions we welcome empirical and theoretical submissions exploring the politics and potential of the US Farm Bill with regard to ecological and social justice. Join us.

To those interested: please send your 250-word abstract (with paper title and name and affiliation of all authors) to either organizer by October 24th.

Session Organizers:
Garrett GRADDY-LOVELACE, American University School of International Service (graddy@american.edu)
Adam DIAMOND, American University School of International Service (adiamond@american.edu)

AAG Geographies of Food & Agriculture Specialty Group
AAG Cultural & Political Ecology Specialty Group
AAG Rural Geography Specialty Group

AAG CFP: Geographical Encounters with “Odd” Research Objects

AAG 2015 Annual Meeting, Chicago, 21-25 April 2015

CFP: Geographical Encounters with “Odd” Research Objects

Lia Frederiksen (University of Toronto)
David K. Seitz (University of Toronto)

Do you have an object of study that seems “odd”? If so, let’s talk.

Our aim is to convene a dialogue among critical human geographers about our objects of study that can invoke puzzlement from non-academic audiences, and within disciplinary and interdisciplinary subfields. Our common ground in the session would be that we are frequently asked why and what we are studying in and through our objects of research.

We’re interested in talking with each other about how “odd” is rendered in light of more common theoretical framings and subfields. The oddness might therefore emerge, endure, and intensify in relation to the audiences we speak to and the categories we pursue deeper understanding through. Such objects would be easily described neither as resistant, nor emancipatory, nor enigmatic. As with Robyn Wiegman’s (2012) “object lessons”, we are keenly interested in exploring what it means to “have” an object of study, particularly in terms of critical human geography.

Critical (and especially feminist and queer) geographers have long engaged in powerful efforts to expose the political constitution and valences of such putatively apolitical objects as the body, the home, and the public park (Nast and Pile 1998, Domosh and Bondi 1998, Brown 2000, Mitchell and Staeheli 2007). Our engagement with similarly overlooked objects builds on this work to ask about the political stakes of ostensibly unremarkable objects — which can register as “too boring”, “too bourgeois”, or “not sexy”. We see this pursuit as linking with critical geography’s continued push to produce an analysis of power without “proper objects” (Butler 1994).

How might these objects benefit from critical geography’s sustained insistence on and curiosity about the banal and diffuse character of power? How might the awkward relationship between an uncommonly researched object and a subfield help to recast ongoing conversations? How might these uneasy relationships inform our research design and methods?

While we are aware of the novelty of an “odd” research object, we aim to avoid the trivial or peculiar inflections in posing and discussing these questions with each other. We are thinking of oddness much in the way that Berlant (2011) insists that it is social relations, not the objects themselves, that generate “cruel-optimistic” conditions which obstruct potential flourishing. We therefore look forward to engaging in a rigorous conversation among critical geographers that looks intently at the relationship between under-researched or under-theorized objects of study to bring fresh ideas to our subfields and theoretical framings.

Odd objects might include — but are by no means limited to — sites of banal consumption and ordinary consumer citizenship: bars, toilets, libraries, churches, phone booths, salons (hair, nail, etc.), electrical outlets, water taps, hardware stores, elevators, weigh stations, work stations, automobiles, recreational campgrounds, kitchen gardens, ferry boats. We are particularly hopeful to convene a discussion of these geographies spanning Global North and Global South framings.

If you are interested in taking part in this special session please send a 250-word abstract, including title, author(s), institutional affiliation(s), e-mail address(es) and 5 keywords to oddobjectsaag@gmail.com by October 1, 2014.

Works Cited
Berlant, Lauren. 2011. Cruel Optimism. Durham: Duke University Press.
Brown, Michael P. 2000. Closet Space: Geographies of Metaphor from the Body to the Globe. London: Routledge.
Butler, Judith. 1994. “Against Proper Objects. Introduction.” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 6.2+3: 1-25.
Domosh, Mona and Liz Bondi. 1998. “On the Contours of Public Space: A Tale of Three Women.” Antipode 30.3: 270-289.
Nast, Heidi J. and Steve Pile, eds. 1998. Places Through the Body. London: Routledge.
Weigman, Robyn. 2012. Object Lessons. Durham: Duke University Press.

AAG CFP: Slaying the Malthusian (water) dragon?

CFP, AAG annual meeting, Chicago, 21-25 April 2015

Maria Fragkou (Universidad de Chile)
Jamie McEvoy (Montana State University)
David Sauri (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

According to business estimates, desalination provides freshwater to some 300 million people worldwide. Between 2008 and 2013 the world installed capacity jumped from 47.6 million cubic meters to 78.4 million cubic meters. China, alone, plans to double its installed capacity in just three years and reach 2.6 million cubic meters in 2015. While the Persian Gulf produces about half of the world’s desalinated water, over 150 countries have desalination facilities and installed capacity and production is expected to become perhaps the fastest growing activity within the water sector.
As any other technological fix to resource scarcity, desalinated water opens up a number of potentially interesting research avenues for geographers. For one thing, it is a resource that seriously challenges conventional views of scarcity since it taps an inexhaustible domain. Moreover, technological developments and the use of renewable energy sources are easing constraints to power the energy-intensive plants. Finally, desalination provides a much needed resource in islands and coastal areas subject to rapid processes of growth and socioenvironmental change
Still, this cornucopian dream is not free of contradictions. In this session we are interested in research, both in the developing and the developed world, that critically assesses this new, artificial and seemingly endless water resource. In particular, we are searching for contributions that 1) analyze desalination as a means for developing critical views on the concept of scarcity in the view of new cornucopian visions of nature-society relationships; 2) study the social and environmental dimensions and impacts of desalination in areas such as the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, the Caribbean, etc.; 3) consider desalination in the broader context of the water-energy nexus; 4) study the role of desalination in water governance, and especially in relation to the power struggles for the control of the water cycle by public, private, or community groups, 5) consider the regulatory aspects of desalination or 6) explore the relationships between  desalination and water geopolitics in conflict-ridden countries. Research that explores other geographical aspects or dimensions of desalination will also be of interest.

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to Maria Fragkou (mariac.fragkou@gmail.com) by Friday, October 24, 2014.

AAG CFP: Pedagogies of Peace-Building

AAG Annual Meeting, 21-25 April 2015 – Chicago, Illinois

Call for Papers: Pedagogies of Peace-Building, Democracy and Development
Organizers: Lynn Staeheli and David Jones Marshall (Durham University)
Sponsored by the Political Geography Specialty Group

In societies riven by division, conflict, and violence, young people represent both a shining hope for a more peaceful future, and the fear of a return to war. The distance of the “new generation” from old conflicts opens the possibility for building more just societies, or at least societies in which conflict is reduced. As such, young people are often the targets of various “post-conflict transition” efforts that seek to build non-conflictual ways of being and belonging, and that mobilise democracy and development in those efforts. These efforts, however, are deeply contested, especially in societies recovering from conflict and division.

Some commentators and practitioners, however, argue that, in an effort to sidestep conflict, peace building projects may seek to avoid political questions about the root causes of violence, questions about rights and justice, and contested narratives of the conflict, in favor of functionalist approaches that strive for building everyday interpersonal tolerance and coexistence, often under the guise of citizenship. In doing so, peace-building efforts operate within a particular logic that forecloses questions about what peace and citizenship actually mean to young people living in divided societies. The purpose of this session is to open these questions to critical examination, and to unpack the coupling of peace education and citizenship promotion as it is so often mobilized in post-conflict settings.

This session seeks to bring together recent critical scholarship within geography examining the politics of peace and peacebuilding (Koopman 2011; Williams and McConnell 2012; Megoan, McConnell and Williams 2014), research on multicultural and cosmopolitan citizenship education (Mitchell 2003; Pykett 2010; Staeheli and Hammett 2013), and recent work on the geographies of knowledge and learning (McFarlane 2011). We invite papers that critically examine the spatial and temporal politics of peace-building as a form of citizenship formation, and citizenship promotion as a mode of peace building. This may include research on topics such as: the role of international NGOs and donor governments in peace building and citizenship promotion; transnational circulation of peace pedagogies; the scales and sites of peace/citizenship; how and where young people “learn” peace or violence; the reproduction of violence and peace in everyday spaces and practices; the gender and age politics of peace building and citizenship promotion; the potential epistemic violence of peace education; among others.

Please send your abstracts to david.marshall@durham.ac.uk by 20 October 2014.

AAG CFP: Geographies of Totalitarianism

AAG CFP, Chicago, IL, April 21-25, 2015
CFP: Geographies of Totalitarianism

Session organizer: Joshua Hagen (Marshall University)

These sessions explore the geographies of totalitarianism, defined broadly to encompass regimes, organizations, and/or movements that aspire to total control over society. In contrast to other non-democratic movements that merely monopolize the levers of politics and government, totalitarian movements seek total control over economics, civil society, leisure, the workplace, housing, gender roles, family life, education, ethnic relations, etc. to build their vision of the ‘common good.’ To achieve these ends, totalitarian movements develop and deploy a range of spatial strategies, mechanisms, and practices. In many ways, totalitarian movements rely heavily on spatial engineering to achieve their goals of social engineering. The presentations may include comparative perspectives or case studies on the spatiality of totalitarian movements from past and present (e.g., Fascist Italy, Islamic State) and from across the political spectrum (e.g., Nazi Germany, Stalinist Soviet Union). Presentations are welcome from a variety of theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological perspectives, as well as different world regions.

If interested, please submit a tentative title and abstract to Joshua Hagen at hagenj@marshall.edu by November 1st.

AAG CFP: Green Violence: Interrogating New Conflicts over Nature and Conservation

CFP AAG 2015, Chicago, April 21 – 25

Green Violence: Interrogating New Conflicts over Nature and Conservation

Bram Büscher, ISS / Wageningen University, buscher@iss.nl / bram.buscher@wur.nl
Libby Lunstrum, York University, lunstrum@yorku.ca
Maano Ramutsindela, University of Cape Town, maano.ramutsindela@uct.ac.za

Conservation has long had links to various forms of violence, from the forcible displacement of resident communities and related creation of “wilderness” to the deployment of environmental protection in the name of colonial state building. Over the last two decades, we have seen the pendulum swing away from ostensibly less exclusionary community-based conservation and back toward myriad forms of exclusionary and violent conservation tactics, leading to social conflict (Brashares et al., 2014). What is clear is that today we witness an intensification of the dovetailing of conservation—as both practice and body of thought—and violence, a phenomenon we here refer to as “green violence” (also see Büscher and Ramutsindela, Under Review) This emerges, for example, from responses to environmental crime such as commercial poaching (itself an increasingly violent economy), neoliberal conservation including the expansion of private conservation spaces and growing network of conservation actors, the consolidation of state sovereignty over conservation territories, and growing interest in conservation as a response to global climate change (see Beymer-Farris and Bassett, 2012; Büscher and Ramutsindela, Under Review; Duffy, 2014; Kelly, 2011; Lunstrum, 2014; Ojeda, 2012; Ybarra, 2012). This intensification is furthermore informed by new technologies of governance, information, and communication and immersed in complex global networks that traverse the legal and the illegal, the state and the extra-state.

This session seeks to (1) investigate the growing links between conservation and violence, (2) chart what is new with contemporary encounters and what is reminiscent of past forms of violence, and (3) enable the conceptualisation of these questions under the broad banner of “green violence.” We invite papers that offer detailed case-studies, theoretical perspectives, or a combination of the two. Possible topics include:

  • the militarization/securitization of conservation;
  • neoliberal conservation and dispossession;
  • climate change mitigation (e.g., REDD+) and violence;
  • environmental crime and varied responses;
  • discursive constructions of conservation’s “enemies”;
  • territorialization / the consolidation of sovereignty over green landscapes;
  • conservation and border crossings/transgressions;
  • criminalization of livelihood practices;
  • new technologies of governance and violence (e.g., conservation drones);
  • responses to green violence.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words by October 15, 2014 to buscher@iss.nl, lunstrum@yorku.ca, and maano.ramutsindela@uct.ac.za.

We look forward to receiving your abstracts and seeing you in Chicago in April!


  • Beymer-Farris, B.A., Bassett, T.J., 2012. The REDD menace: Resurgent protectionism in Tanzania’s mangrove forests. Global Environmental Change-Human and Policy Dimensions 22 (2), 332-341.
  • Büscher, B., Ramutsindela, M., Under Review. Green Violence: Rhino Poaching and the War to Save Southern Africa’s Peace Parks. African Affairs.
  • Duffy, R., 2014. Waging a war to save biodiversity: the rise of militarised conservation. International Affairs 819-34 (90), 4.
  • Kelly, A.B., 2011. Conservation practice as primitive accumulation. The Journal of Peasant Studies 38 (4), 683-701.
  • Lunstrum, E., 2014. Green militarization: Anti-poaching efforts and the spatial contours of Kruger National Park. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 104 (4), 816-832.
  • Ojeda, D., 2012. Green pretexts: Ecotourism, neoliberal conservation and land grabbing in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia. Journal of Peasant Studies 39 (2), 357-375.
  • Ybarra, M., 2012. Taming the jungle, saving the Maya Forest: Sedimented counterinsurgency practices in contemporary Guatemalan conservation. Journal of Peasant Studies 39 (2), 479-502.

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)