CFP AAG 2017: The Urban Politics of Policy Failure

Call For Papers
AAG 2017 Boston (April 5-8, 2017)

Session title: The Urban Politics of Policy Failure

Much attention has been paid to urban management and redevelopment success stories. Urbanists are grappling with the ways that successful models or best practices can come into the politics of managing cities and their people. Whether looking at unique aspects of a city that contribute to its vitality, or searching for a model that ‘works’, city makers and urban scholars alike are interested in successes. Less attention has been paid however to the processes and outcomes of policy failure. How is failure framed and understood? Why is it that some policies don’t succeed? What happens to failed policies? How do cities deal with failure? Where do the concepts of success and failure fit into longer historical narratives of the city? And what are the spatial politics that surround questions of failure vs. success? This session examines the interaction of policy failure and urban politics, policies, and changing spatial configurations within cities. In doing so, we hope to extrapolate analysis of urban geographies that challenge and reconfigure our understanding of contemporary urban governance.

We welcome papers from diverse conceptual, empirical and geographic perspectives on themes like, but not limited to:
> Causes and consequences of urban policy failure.
> Legacies of failed urban policies.
> Failure and success in policy mobilities.
> Infrastructural and ecological dimensions of policy failure.
> Topological and relational geographies of failure.

Please send a 250 word abstract by October 1st to Cristina Temenos ( and John Lauermann (

CFP AAG 2017: “The Wasteland” and other Geographies

Call For Papers
AAG 2017 Boston (April 5-8, 2017)

Session title: “The Wasteland” and other Geographies

Organizers: Heather Agnew, UCLA; Robert Kopack, University of Toronto;

Session description:

Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
What is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air
Falling towers
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria
Vienna London
T.S. Eliot “The Waste Land”

From popular representations in film and other media, to recent works within a diverse set of academic disciplines, the concept of the “Wasteland” has emerged as a cultural touchstone of the 21st century. While the concept itself is fluid and open to a variety of interpretations, certain threads lead a pathway through. These include the importance of humanity’s relationship to landscape, the imposition (or withdrawal) of value and authority in relation to both space and place, continuity/discontinuity, fear, the strange, the bizarre, and the inhabited.

Understandings and imaginations of the wasteland are deeply historical and reveal intellectual as well as cultural and political traditions. Authors such as Di Palma (2014) identify the historical construction of value through the appropriation of “wasted lands” by colonial authorities, while Roszak (1973) details the dominance of objective, scientific epistemology as causing the current “wasteland” of the technocratic dislocation from nature. Building upon these scholarly works, we aim to extend this conversation to also include modern popular narratives, for example, the zombie phenomenon in popular film, television, and video games, which serve as lenses through which to ‘play out’ the socio-cultural fears and projections of the future.

Importantly, the ‘wasteland‘ has been treated as a particular form of aesthetic in recent years with ‘exploration’ and ‘discovery’ demonstrating a revival of the geographic tradition. Academic work, in addition to more general media interest have showcase industrial and environmental collapse in almost sublime form. Sites of ruin and abandonment are providing the narrative sequence for the march of history, the movement of capital and the disintegration of empires. Photography has no doubt played an enormous role. Yet how far can the imagery alone take us? Wastelands are a matter of perspective and quite potentially sites of contest. What are the places and landscapes behind the games?

Who is living there? Who remembers? What really is a wasteland and according to who?

It is with the collective desire to explore a genre and to better understand places imagined or held as wastelands that this call for papers emerged. We seek to put pieces of scholarship and academic experience together that look at ruin, rubble, neglect, abandonment, collapse, decay, and value. Because ‘wasteland’ is also envisioned as a site of opportunity and exploitation, the degradation of land value provides the potential for realizing alternative spatial imaginaries, even utopias. This panel invites papers that work within these themes (or others too) that thoughtfully and critically engage with historical, modernist, and postmodern analyses of how spaces of value transform into sites of neglect, disinvestment, and disgust (or other geographies). The multiplicity of perspectives of the wasteland, cries out for further inquiry and scholarly discussion.

Borrowing liberally from TS Eliot’s framework “The Waste Land” session(s) will be organized loosely along these lines:

Possible papers topics:

The Burial of the Dead
> Popular cultural representation of the wasteland
> Socio-cultural implications of the modern Zombie phenomenon
> Post-apocalyptic narratives and representations of the post-modern landscape

A Game of Chess
> Active engagements in the creation of wasteland(s)
> “Wasted Lands” – and the colonial seizure of terra nulla
> Urban development, and the designation of socio-cultural/economic values

The Fire Sermon
> The moment of destruction and the immediate aftermath of catastrophe
> Warfare, spaces of contestation, and “no-man’s land”
> Political imaginaries, and the rhetoric of impending doom

Death by Water
> The anthropocene and ecological wastelands
> Erosion and immersion of marginal regions and environs

What the Thunder Said
> The echoes of the industrial age, and rust belt abandonment
> Continuing impact of Post-Soviet landscape

Those interesting in participating should register at and submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and his/her PIN to or by Friday, October 23, 2016. In you’re unable to submit an abstract by Oct. 21, then please write the conveners stating your intent to submit. Participants must also formally submit their abstract by the AAG deadline, Oct. 29th.

CFP AAG 2017: Theorizing Citizenship in Higher Education: Students as Agents for Change?

Call For Papers
AAG 2017 Boston (April 5-8, 2017)

Theorizing Citizenship in Higher Education: Students as Agents for Change?
Session Convenors: Mark Holton (Plymouth University) and Yi’En Cheng (Yale-NUS College)

Citizenship – whether it is constitutional-legal status tied to certain rights and responsibilities; or practiced by people as they navigate obstacles to carve out spaces and communities of belonging; or even as embodied, sensuous, and felt within the psychic and emotional realms – is central to a repertoire of issues in contemporary restructuring of higher education around the world. Recent research has begun to question how various processes are changing students’ ideas and practices around citizenship: from the increasingly globalised networks of students moving around the world to the neoliberalization of higher education policies that have heavily marketized (transnational) degree programmes, term-time accommodation, and student organizations and unions; from the mounting pressure on students to search for and acquire ‘useful’ cultural and embodied capitals, such as critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and global competencies, to the ways in which students’ identities are negotiated, accepted, or rejected on campuses. At the same time, class, gender, race/ethnicity and other social differences continue to act as prisms through which inequalities are [re]produced, even though these can also occur alongside hopeful practices of love, care, solidarity, and anti-injustice. Analyses of interactions across structure, agency, and change are part and parcel of writings about these young people’s educational lives. How might the notion of citizenship help frame these ongoing discussions and/or open up conversations about students-as-citizens? What kinds of citizenships are emerging in these different moments of higher educational change? Relatedly, how can that further our understanding of higher education spaces as contentious, politicized, and possibly radical locations?

In this session, we explore how citizenship can be theorized in diverse contexts of higher education, across both the global north and south. By fostering a dialogue between citizenship studies and geographies of higher education, the session will allow us to rethink and renew the research agenda on the geographies of higher education students. We are interested in multiple ways of thinking about citizenship as informed by students’ experiences during and beyond term-time, their mobilities across various scales and borders, as well as their engagement with explicit and implicit forms of politics. We want to unpack the ways in which dominant understandings of the ‘student voice’ and the ‘student experience’ in higher education are assembled through representations, discourses, and practices of citizenship within particular political-economic and socio-cultural regimes. We are also keen to examine students’ responses to the burdens placed upon them in terms of peer, institutional and policy pressures and the extent to which this might act as potential catalysts for change. Papers that offer fresh materials, theoretically and empirically, to advancing existing scholarship on the geographies of citizenship in higher education and student lives are especially welcomed.

Please submit a 250-word abstract with title and short bio to Mark Holton ( and Yi’En Cheng (, by 20 September 2016.

CFP AAG 2017: Robotic Futures

Call For Papers
AAG 2017 Boston (April 5-8, 2017)

This Call for Papers seeks to organize four independent but related sessions on the examination of robotic futures across the discipline of geography. Each session has an organizer to which contributors are encouraged to send prospective papers.

Please send paper titles and abstracts (200 words) to the appropriate corresponding session organizer(s) by September 15, 2016 (see below for details):

Robotic Futures Sessions Summary
Recently, geographers have taken up the question of robots and robotic technologies within the confines of a broadly engaged human and environmental geography. From the rise of robotic warfare to the development of smart cities and borders to the reliance on code, big data analytics, and autonomous sensing systems in environmental management, geographers are interrogating what robots and robotic technologies mean not only for discipline, surveillance, and security, but for making and remaking everyday life and the socio-natural environment.

This call seeks papers organized around a series of four sessions focused on a number of key empirical nodal points through which geographers might further investigate the central proposition:

What does the growing integration of robots and robotic technologies into everyday life do and/or mean for the theorization of sociospatial relations?

The four themed sessions will conclude with a fifth session consisting of a panel discussion of the session organizers to examine the broader questions and overlapping concerns related to reorganizations in social, political, and environmental relations and the interventions that robots and robotic technologies are playing today.

1. Robotic Futures I: Nature/Environment & Technology (Organizer: Lily House-Peters)
Advances in technology and robotic system design are targeting the environment producing new encounters with and understandings of nature. For example, environmental monitoring is increasingly carried out via UAVs/drones, autonomous sensor networks, and mobile robotic platforms. The ability of these systems to collect and wirelessly transmit data at continuous time scales, reach remote locations, and carry out panoramic measurements is shifting the temporal and spatial dimensions of environmental perception. Analysis of big data sets and ever-growing emphasis on models and algorithms transform not only how we know nature, but also the types of discursive formations that emerge and the kinds of interventions that become possible. Yet, attention in the geographical literature to these processes remains extremely limited. The focus of this session is to examine and attempt to theorize how the rise of robots (ie. drones, sensor networks, autonomous monitoring platforms) and robotic technologies (ie. computer code, algorithms, big data, models) are reorganizing ways of knowing, seeing, and talking about nature and the environment. This session seeks papers that engage with the following broad questions: How does the virtual world of autonomous sensor readings, computer code, algorithms, and models make and remake the material dimensions of nature? And vice versa, how do the material dimensions of nature serve to challenge robot(ic) logics? How are robotic technologies reorganizing the spatial and temporal dimensions of our perceptions of nature and the environment? What are the discursive shifts taking place as a result of the increased reliance on robots and robotics in environmental monitoring and how are these affecting decision-making, interventions, and the production of nature?

2. Robotic Futures II: Algorithmic Subjectivities (Organizers: Vincent Del Casino & Jeremy Crampton)
Robots are often imagined as material objects with bodies and form. Robots are also invoked in software, code, and algorithms. This is not to suggest an either/or ontology of robots but a both/and whereby geographers think about the theoretical and political implications of the hardware/software matrix and what it means for human and more-than-human bodies and relations. Picking up on the themes of assemblage theory and other theories of power and performance, this session seeks papers that empirically and theoretically interrogate robotic futures, human cyborg relations, and other robotic possibilities. Key questions to be addressed in this session include: How are more decisions being taken by algorithmic objects in fields across education, insurance, policing, and health? What are the attendant anxieties around algorithms and their failures, gaps or uncertainties? Can we identify algorithmic spaces that expand our notion of robotic capabilities? What sorts of human and nonhuman subjectivities are made possible and/or closed off by the emergence of new robots and robotic technologies? How might we theorize robots in the context of our historically anthropocentric human geographies? And, what role might robots play in our understanding of the spatialities of key concepts in human geography, including labor and labor politics, health and health care, or geospatial technologies and relations of power, to name a few?

3. Robotic Futures III: Urban Life & Technological Sovereignties (Organizer: Casey Lynch)
Innovations in robotic and information and communication technology (ICT) are increasingly impacting practices of urban planning, management, and politics. “Smart city” programs and the “internet of things” have allowed for the proliferation of a variety of sensors and other miniaturized computing technologies throughout the urban form, producing massive amounts of urban data to be stored, processed and exploited by municipal governments, private corporations, and other entities. In some cities, these developments are increasingly giving rise to oppositional movements interested in rearticulating the role of emerging technologies in urban life. For instance, competing discourses within a fledgling “technological sovereignty” movement in Europe seek to challenge “technological fetishism.” Borrowing from theorizations of “food sovereignty,” the idea of technological sovereignty calls for a critical analysis and radical restructuring of the existing political economic models through which technology is developed, produced, and controlled. This session seeks papers that: employ critical approaches to the role of emerging robotic technology and ICT in urban life; examine the work of urban actors or collectives that critically reconceptualize the potential role of technology in creating alternative urban economies or political framework; offer new ways of methodologically approaching or theorizing the role of technical objects in complex urban assemblage; critically explore the notion of “technological sovereignty” as a theoretical concept and/or political project; and/or consider questions of privacy, surveillance, or data security within the urban context.

4. Robotics Futures IV: The Politics of Security (Organizer: Ian Shaw)
This session seeks to explore how robots are transforming the spaces, politics, and subjects of security. Robotics are already emerging as vital actors in our security-worlds. From biometric borders, automated gun turrets, to mobile sea mines, a new class of robotic apparatuses are being developed, each of which embodies (and mobilizes) a future geography. The rise of U.S. drone warfare has received a great deal of media and academic discussion. Yet, paradoxically, this has tended to mask the wider robotic revolution in security: the banal and everyday deployment of robots by state and non-state actors. Accordingly, this session aims to consider a number of broad theoretical and empirical questions on the politics of security: How will robots transform the spaces of war and conflict? In what ways will robots transform the spaces and architectures of policing? How will robots transform the established logics of state sovereignty and governance? What potentials are there for resistance and subversion?

Congratulations to PGSG’s 2016 Award winners

Congratulations to all the 2015 PGSG award winners. We are pleased to announce the following recipients:

Grad student paper awards:


1. PhD Student Paper Award: Casey Lynch (University of Arizona) for “Performative Power and Colonizing Assemblages in Post-Coup Honduras”

2. MA/MS Student Paper Award: Amber Boll (University of Kentucky) for “Participatory Action Mapping: A pathway for (re)thinking, (re)engaging, and (re)making maps in political geography”

3. BA Student Paper Award (2015): Shivon Yim (York University) for “Imaginative Geographies of a Mixed-race Identity: A postcolonial consideration of my colonial past and present” (Faculty Sponsor: Sara Koopman)

4. BA Student Paper Award (2015, honorable mention): Brittney Ortega (University of Hawai’i at Mānoa) for “The Immigration Crisis in the Mediterranean: The Spanish Case” (Faculty Sponsor: Reece Jones)

Alexander B. Murphy Dissertation Enhancement Award:

Carly Nichols (University of Arizona) for “1000 Days is Forever: The Gendered and Affective Political Geographies of Food and Nutrition Interventions in India”

Student Travel awards:

1. Benjamin Butler (University of Toronto)

2. Ingrid Medby (Durham University)

3. Maegan Miller (CUNY)

4. Emily Mitchell-Eaton (Syracuse University)

Non-student awards:

1. Stanley D. Brunn Young Scholar Award: Josh Inwood (University of Tennessee-Knoxville)

2. Richard Morrill Public Outreach Award: Brittany Gilmer (Florida International University)

3. Julian Minghi Distinguished Book Award: Philippa Williams (Queen Mary, University of London), for Everyday Peace? : Politics, Citizenship and Muslim Lives in India (Wiley-Blackwell)

4. Virginie Mamadouh Outstanding Research Award: Ian Shaw (University of Glasgow,) and Katie Meehan (University of Oregon) for (2013) Force-Full: Power, Politics and Object-Oriented Philosophy. Area 44(2): 216-222.

For a list of past winners, visit the past winners tab.


Undergraduate Student Paper Competition

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.

This year’s deadline is Wednesday, June 15, 2016.  Submissions should be made by the student’s advisor or the department chair.  For full details visit the Student Awards page.

PGSG at AAG – get ready!

PGSG members: we look forward to seeing you all at this year’s AAG conference in San Francisco. We are listed as a sponsor on 126 sessions, and we have a jam-packed schedule at the 29th Annual Preconference on Monday.

In addition to these great events, we hope you will also join us for the 2016 Business Meeting on Wednesday (March 30) from 7:10 PM – 8:10 PM in Union Square 13, Hilton Hotel, 4th Floor. We will announce – and congratulate – the winners of our student and non-student awards, and discuss other specialty group business. If you have any agenda items, please contact Natalie by Tuesday night at:


29th Annual PGSG PreconferenceSan Francisco 2016

Preliminary program is now available here.  Abstracts are here.

Date & time: Monday, 28 March 2016 from 8 AM – 5:45 PM — COME PRE-CAFFEINATED! (due to venue restrictions, we will not have AM coffee)

Location: Nikko Hotel, 222 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Lodging: This year’s venue is one of the AAG conference hotels, so you should plan to stay wherever you prefer for the main conference.

Registration: As with our past preconferences, there will be a nominal $20 registration fee for non-students. Faculty, please bring cash (or check) on the day of the event.

Inquiries: Contact the organizers individually or at:

Award deadlines tomorrow

Please remember that there are a number of award deadlines tomorrow (15 March), including:


PGSG Student Paper Awards: Masters and PhD categories

Alexander B. Murphy Dissertation Enhancement Award

Details are here.

Virginie Mamadouh Outstanding Research Award. This award will be given to the author(s) of a journal article or book chapter published in the previous three (3) calendar years (2013, 2014, 2015) that makes an innovative, original contribution to the conceptual and/or methodological embrace of political geography.

Stanley D. Brunn Young Scholar Award.  This award will be given to an individual who has received her/his Ph.D. within the past ten years, in honor of contributions that have generated new interest in the subfield and/or opened up new areas of inquiry for political geographic research.

Richard Morrill Public Outreach Award.  This award will be given to an individual who has used her or his political geographic expertise to affect change (in public thought or public policy) beyond the academy.

Details are here.

Seeking PGSG award nominations

The PGSG is currently soliciting nominations for the non-student awards listed below. Please email any nominations directly to Natalie (, specifying the award and accompanied by a 3-4 sentence justification (at minimum) by March 15. 

You will find the past winners here:


Virginie Mamadouh Outstanding Research Award. This award will be given to the author(s) of a journal article or book chapter published in the previous three (3) calendar years (2013, 2014, 2015) that makes an innovative, original contribution to the conceptual and/or methodological embrace of political geography.

Stanley D. Brunn Young Scholar Award.  This award will be given to an individual who has received her/his Ph.D. within the past ten years, in honor of contributions that have generated new interest in the subfield and/or opened up new areas of inquiry for political geographic research.

Richard Morrill Public Outreach Award.  This award will be given to an individual who has used her or his political geographic expertise to affect change (in public thought or public policy) beyond the academy.

General Information:

1. All awards will be based on nominations made to the President of the PGSG, with award decisions to be made by the PGSG Board. Nominations should include a paragraph describing the impact of the nominee’s work in political geography and more broadly. The next deadline for nominations is 15 March 2016.

2. For each award category, a maximum of one award will be conferred each year, with the announcement to be made at the PGSG Business Meeting taking place the next Spring (e.g., the announcement for the Outstanding Research Award for 2015 will be made at the Spring 2016 Business Meeting).  For each award category, if there are no nominees whom the Board views as deserving of merit, no award will be made.

3. Decisions regarding who receives awards will be made by the PGSG Board.  The PGSG Board reserves the right to determine whether a nominee (or a nominated publication) falls within the scope of political geography.

4. Nominations by Board members are permitted.

5. Nominations of Board members are permitted. In this case, the board member will be recused from the vote.

6. Awardees need not be PGSG or AAG members, although awardees will be strongly encouraged to join both groups if they are not already members.