This chapter examines how ethnography exposes the complex geographies of power. The chapter begins by addressing ethnography’s history in the discipline of geography. While the methodology’s traditional impetus of classification has led to a conception of the world as consisting of discrete cultural and peopled spaces, I argue that ethnography can be used to confront this lingering tendency in the social sciences. Drawing on feminist and post-colonial theories as well as my research experiences, I show that ethnographic practices can intervene in the traditional geographical divisions that have structured social scientific knowledge. A conjoined reading of Gandhi and Fanon’s challenge to racism in their return of the classificatory gaze acts as inspiration for the kind of ethnography advocated in the chapter. I conclude by delineating how an ethnographic approach in geography illuminates the constitution and multiplicity of subjects and knowledge production in and through space.
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Seth Schindler, J. Miguel Kanai and Deusdedit Rwehumbiza
In this chapter we chart the rise and fall of regional planning in the global South, and posit that it is re-emerging as an accepted method of state-led development. The chapter consists of three sections and draws on the three UN Habitat Agendas and other policy documents. First, we narrate the emergence of a consensus surrounding regional planning in the global South in the post-independence period. We introduce a number of empirical examples in which regional planning features prominently in state-led developmental agendas. In the second section we show how this consensus was eroded during the neoliberal period. In the final section we chart the re-emergence in recent years of regional planning, this time more decidedly informed by spatially extensive urbanization processes, which culminates in the adoption of the New Urban Agenda after the UN Habitat III process. We conclude by proposing directions for future research on the emergent regime of regionalism in the global South.
Sociospatiality comprises complex, polymorphic relations. Social agents respond through spatial imaginaries and horizons of social action that focus on just some aspects of these relations, generally or in specific contexts. Critical geographers also incline to selective simplification, disagreeing on the best entry-points for sociospatial investigation. This can be illustrated in debates about territory, place, scale, and networks, where one-sided approaches create theoretical deficits, methodological hazards, and restricted empirical analyses. Named after its systematic demarcation of these four moments and its mapping of their possible relations, the ‘TPSN’ schema was developed to counter these problems. It considers different kinds of sociospatial processes and configurations in these terms, commenting on statehood, different kinds of empire, territorial logics and the space of flows, the relativisation of scales, and the limits of spatiotemporal fixes in displacing or deferring sociospatial crisis-tendencies. It also discusses different approaches to sociospatial governance, illustrating them from the European Union.
Humanitarian aid is delivered to war zones, refugee camps, and other diverse spaces where human survival is at risk, but its application is geographically uneven, shaped by geopolitics as much as principles of compassion and neutrality. Humanitarian interventions are constellations of power relations that govern those whom they help and the spaces in which they reside. By exploring international humanitarian law and principles, and then “humanitarian government” and governmentalities, the conditions attached to the “right to life” and related humanitarian intervention are analyzed. What are the prevailing spatialities of humanitarian aid?
Jenna M. Loyd
Prisons are contingent political economic projects, which, following Ruth Gilmore’s work, stitch together the restructuring of the state, land, labor, and capital. This chapter situates the construction of federal prisons in the state of Louisiana between 1982 and 2002 within the context of three fundamental shifts, the restructuring of 1) the regional plantation bloc, after Clyde Woods; 2) the neoliberal state; and 3) the late- and post-Cold War military. In an era of prison overcrowding and budget shortfalls, expansion was not assured, nor was privatization a necessary outcome. I draw upon political economic theories of the carceral state to argue that a multi-scalar, materialist analysis is necessary to explain the paradoxes and geographies of prison expansion. Examining these intergovernmental relationships and how they have evolved through crisis exposes systemic vulnerabilities of the carceral state, and thereby avenues for decarceration.
Rather than being ‘natural’ entities, territories emerge through a series of social and political practices. Territories can be seen as politicised space, that which is mapped, claimed and bordered. Territorial strategies can be viewed as mechanisms deployed to convey messages of political power, communicated through various means including the creation and securing of borders. Territory is also intimately bound up with identity and can be used to instill and reproduce a sense of loyalty and affiliation. Territories exist across a range of spatial scales and in a wide range of contexts. This chapter explores the concept of territory and the uses of territoriality as a strategy. It focuses on the state, highlighting its territorial practices, foregrounding ongoing debates over the shifting and contingent nature of state sovereignty. Finally, the chapter considers the significance of territory and place in shaping and reproducing a sense of national identity.
Unlike other animals, humans have the capacity to reflect on the meaning of territory and to change it in accordance with the changing circumstances in which they find themselves. The sources of the modern understanding of territory are rooted in ancient mythological and religious understandings of the earth and of human beings' place in it. This, in turn, affected the ways in which they understood the governance of territory. This developed from primitive tribal ideas to great empires such as the Roman Empire. In the West, the Roman Empire was succeeded by feudalism, complex church–state relations, and eventually the arrival of the modern nation-state and the post-war welfare state. Regions became subordinate to national governments, but this changed with the European Union and then with neoliberal globalisation. Regions became, to some extent free from national control, although this is now changing following the 2007/8 financial crisis and the crisis of the European project itself.
Philosophers ask how a territorial right – exclusive control over a vast space full of valuable resources – could ever be justified. This chapter presents a set of universal values: justice in meeting basic needs, desert, efficiency, and autonomy. Because everybody has a reason to value these principles, then everybody has a reason to believe that territorial rights are, in principle, justified, even though they may exclude outsiders from an immense territory. Territorial rights are justified as a system of international rights, when this system creates more political justice than alternatives. Particular territorial rights are justified when self-determining collectives demonstrate the capacity to use the geographical domain and its resources to rule themselves justly. These values are best realized in a system of territorial rights where collectives can exercise political jurisdictional authority over their territory in perpetuity.
Concerns over issues such as climate change and sea level rise have become a major driver for international, national and local policy responses. From an initial focus on sustainable development from the late 1980s to attempts to restrict carbon emissions and limit global temperature rise in the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change, these have in common the need to address the detrimental impacts of economic development. There is a longstanding argument that these problems are best addressed at the local and regional scale. This chapter initially explores the context for, and interpretations of such sustainable regions. It examines the rise of green economy approaches at the regional scale and the geography of the green economy, drawing on socio-technical transitions theory to investigate the concept of transition regions. The chapter concludes by briefly outlining critiques of the dominant green economy approaches and the need to develop further research into alternative approaches.
Robin Wright, Eric Goldfischer, Aaron Mallory and Kate Derickson
Using the contemporary racial conjuncture in the U.S., this chapter investigates three spatial technologies through which racialized knowledge is produced: the law, visuality, and measurement. In so doing, we argue that ways of knowing are centrally implicated in the relationship between power, race, and, by extension, policing, and can thus be mined for insights into how power operates. We situate this work in a more general shift in geography toward situating contemporary struggles in the broader context of white supremacy. To ground our argument, we engage the work of Third World feminism and Black geographies to articulate a theory of power grounded in critical epistemology, tacking back and forth between the discursive and material effects of spatial technologies of knowledge.