IGU sessions organized by the CPG


for sessions organized by the IGU

Commission on Political Geography

at the

International Geographical Union Regional Conference, Moscow

17-21 August 2015



Session descriptions follow below.  Unless otherwise specified, abstracts of 200-250 words (maximum: 1,800 characters, including spaces) should be submitted via the Moscow IGU Regional Conference website: http://www.igu2015.ru/instruction-abstract-submission


Deadline for abstract submissions: 31 January 2015.



Commission on Political Geography (CPG)-related sessions

The IGU Regional Conference at Moscow, Russia

17-21 August, 2015



C12.33 Commission on Political Geography (CPG) Sessions

Bordering Eurasia: Politics, Power, and Political Geography

Paul Richardson


Akihiro Iwashita



This panel aims to capture the conceptual innovations coming from the field of border studies. The panel presents a number of case-studies drawn from across Eurasia to demonstrate how the study of borders offers critical new insights into state-society relations, which is in turn reframing debates about notions of power and identity. Across Eurasian space we are seeing the simultaneous materialization and dematerialization of borders, which are consolidating and fracturing state space; providing spaces for new identities to emerge; and reconfiguring geopolitics at a variety of different scales. This panel brings together scholars researching disparate corners of Eurasia in order to stimulate a lively debate on the way in which various global and local imperatives are remaking borders. It is this interface between global flows/processes and regional circumstances, which makes border studies one of the most relevant and dynamic streams of political geography in the twenty first century.


For Kropotkin

Anthony Ince


Simon Springer



The recent publication of Pyotr Kropotkin’s 1887 essay The Coming Anarchy in English marks a continuation of Kropotkin’s re-emergence within popular and academic debates regarding the future trajectory of society. As a geographer, Kropotkin’s scholarly works such as Fields, Factories and Workshops (1898) and Mutual Aid (1902) have had profound impacts on the origins of our discipline and therefore the shape of the geographical imagination itself. In recent years, we have seen an emergence of interest

in anarchism in geography, with the deployment of anarchist ideas and theories to innovatively address a wide range of scholarly and societal questions (see, for e.g. Clough and Blumberg 2012; Ince 2014; Springer 2013; Springer et al. 2012).

The recent explosion of anarchist-geographic scholarship is a testament to the potential of anarchist thought, yet so far relatively little work has been done to explore the ideas of particular thinkers in detail. It is in this spirit that we seek to investigate the contributions of Kropotkin’s work, in Moscow, the city of his birth and burial. Kropotkin’s works expertly critiqued the full range of societal problems contemporary to him, including Social Darwinism, colonialism, and industrial capitalism. His writings drew together social, economic, and ecological realms, articulating an explicitly political form of geographical scholarship that foregrounded cooperation, participation, and self-organisation over the prevailing elite priorities of competition, hierarchy, and privilege.

While it is clear that Kropotkin’s ideas are nowadays rarely explored in depth, in these times of global conflict and crisis their re-awakening could well prove to be fruitful in answering some of the key questions facing us. A range of global crises currently engulf contemporary society, and long-term solutions to ongoing geopolitical conflicts, exploitative neoliberalisation, unsustainable resource management, and the erosion of democracy, appear not to be forthcoming within existing societal structures. This panel therefore invites a reawakening of Kropotkin’s ideas, in is home city, as a possible source of effective and just solutions to these pressing concerns.

In reigniting Kropotkin’s ideas, we do not seek to revert to ‘old fashioned’ approaches to geographical scholarship, but invite contributions that draw productively from his wide-ranging conceptual and theoretical toolkit in order to address contemporary questions in innovative ways. We take as a starting point The Coming Anarchy as a key text that articulates Kropotkin’s anarchist geography as a form of open, unfolding, and engaged scholarship that promotes direct confrontation with, and a radical departure from, dominant assumptions about both anarchism and the future of social organisation.

Presentation topics are welcomed on any aspect of Kropotkin’s thought and legacy, although we especially encourage contributions that explicitly draw inspiration from themes and ideas within Kropotkin’s essay The Coming Anarchy.




Regional integration in Southern Africa:

Changing socioeconomic balances in Africa and prospects for continental integration

Inocent Moyo


Christopher C. Nshimbi


In 1991, the African Union (AU) through the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (AEC) made a commitment towards integrating the African continent. In the AU`s integration agenda, the establishment of the AEC, is the ultimate expression and manifestation of the integration of the African continent. This integration is to be founded on eight regional economic communities (RECs) of which the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is one. Ideally, successful integration in and of the respective RECs should translate into the success of the continental integration agenda. Africa on the other hand has in the past two decades experienced renewed growth, acquiring tags such as the rising sun. Therefore, this session proposes to discuss the challenges, prospects and opportunities that SADC has against its objective of an integrated southern Africa. As one of the pillars of the proposed AEC, what are the economic, social, cultural and environmental challenges and trajectories of integration at the regional level in southern Africa? For example, given the increasing levels of migration and the corresponding desire by some states to tighten cross border movement, is the idea of integration feasible, let alone sustainable? Is a completely or partially integrated SADC region even possible? What can SADC learn from the other regional economic communities on the African continent and other parts of the world? What issues does the SADC region need to address in order to enhance integration? How and does SADC relate with other RECs in Africa and outside in view of the continental integration agenda? What can other RECs in Africa and other parts of the world learn from the SADC experience? What can SADC learn from other regions?


Russian geopolitics and the former Soviet countries

Takashi Yamazaki



Even in the post-Cold War era, Russia has been one of the great powers that can have an influence on the world affairs. The emergence of the so-called“New Cold War” might be a possible scenario for the world’s future. However, Russia has also faced geopolitical instabilities with former Soviet countries. Recent incidents in North Caucasus and Crimea clearly indicate that Russia’s territorial integrity and geopolitical stability have been constantly disturbed. This session aims at understanding the current geopolitical situation of Russia and its neighboring countries and viewing the prospect of the region in the coming years.



Borders and illegalities

Adriana Dorfman


Elena dell’Agnese



Since the maritime expansion till present times, the world territories have been consistently organized and reorganized by several agents, much in order to meet the demands of the capitalist system. Nation States, international firms and the various forms of regional integration are the main agents of the establishment of these territories and their limits, which can also be represented as sets of norms and laws spanning over space and separating national / regional productive structures and markets. The process of transnationalization and formation of world markets generated a multiplication of cross-border networks. The contingent roles of the territory and of its borders are a necessary condition for these interactions and stir up the competition between the different systems of legal norms built by States and frequently induced by large firms. This competition is manifest in the selective barriers and fluidity in the border, materialized in border regions, but also in other places such as ports and airports. The central role of the state in representing space frequently leads to a state centered and prejudiced view against border regions, depicting them as deviant places which deserve growing structures of control. Thus, crime and illegalities are more often detected in these regions. At the same time, borderlands are places where illegal practices such as smuggling can serve as a day-to-day supply strategy or as an alternative occupation and income generation source. This session proposes discussions that range from more situated studies about the practices of smuggling in local scale to wider analyses of the role of the borders in revealing the changing geopolitical architecture of the world. Thus, we wish to explore questions such as: Who decides the content of the borderities, defining who or what can cross from one national territory to another? To whom serve the laws and the fight against this or that transit? Who profits from controlling borders and its transits? Where are profits of transit and control invested? What is the legal content of borders and of how does quotidian life of border dwellers relates to it? How are these transits and their actual control?


The critical geopolitics of food

Elena dell’Agnese



Food is not just for eating. As a powerful cultural trait, it can be charged with many political meanings. The first, and more “banal”, is connected with nationalism. Indeed, notwithstanding the use of mixing ingredients of very distant origins, our daily food is often labeled in a national way. Specific products and recipes are considered to be typical of a given national cuisine. “National restaurants”, with their typical decorations and national flags, are scattered all over contemporary urban landscapes, in the general assumption that their menus are typical of a whole country (while, at the best, they are typical of a given part of it, or at the worst, are the product of a local transculturation: indeed, nothing is more “colonial”, even in its name, than the rijsttafel served in “Indonesian” restaurants all over the world).

Sometimes, eating a given product, or cancelling it from the menu, may even be a political choice. In moments of political tension, not only eating, but even naming a certain food may represent a sort of declaration. A traditional recipe, supposedly belonging to a local folklore, may also be turned into a practice of resistance. In this perspective, a people or a community, which feel to be “colonized” by another one, may stick to its own traditional cuisine, performing a sort of political resistance in the kitchen. In the same perspective, also eating “slow” and “local”, instead of “fast” and “global, may respond more to a political choice, than to a simple question of diet. On the other side, sometimes the colonized acquire easily the eating habits of the colonizer, or try to reinvent the traditional recipes, in order to please the new imported tastes. The capacity of food to acquire an identity flavor can easily turns it into an ethnic marker as well: it may represent a connecting link inside ethnic diasporas, a practice of belonging to be performed – at least- in festivities. “Foreign” food can also acquire high visibility into the urban landscape, because of its specific smells, preparation practices (such as halal butcheries) and places of consumption.

Cultural stereotypes pertaining with food, eating habits and table manner can be vehiculated by speaking, and writing, about food, in books of recipes, TV shows, magazines and novels. But also fiction movies can offer, on this perspective, a good standpoint. Indeed, eating habits and etiquettes are frequently used by popular culture in order to represent otherness, identity or just the need to be together. Finally food can be territorialized strategically to advance economic interests, such as in the geographical indication for wines and cheese that originated in French laws, also common in Italy and adopted more recently in the European Union protected designation of origin (PDO). Likewise food can be used to advance (rural and) gastronomic tourism and health regulation can be used to protect national producers against importation. European regulation in that domain has also pushed for harmonization with cultural misunderstandings and resentment as side effects.


Papers pertaining to the following topics will be welcome:


Food and banal nationalism

Food and ethnic and religious identities

Eating habits and practices of resistance

Trans-cultural recipes and post-colonial issues

Stereotypes on the menu

Food as a discourse and practice in popular geopolitics

Performing food

Food as health construction

Politics of food tourism

Political economies of food regulation



Political geographies of multilingualism

Virginie Mamadouh



Dealing with linguistic diversity is a particular challenge for political institutions that want to promote smooth communication between state and citizens and between political and economic actors on their territory. Territorial arrangements based on territorial monolingualism as a way to enhance both social cohesion and institutional performance have often been adopted, in particular in Europe where the principle of “one state, one nation, one language, one territory” has been widely endorsed and implemented both by states pursuing nation building policies and by nationalist movements advancing linguistic argument to establish their own state. Monolingualism has often been seen as a sine qua non for the functioning of the public sphere deemed necessary for a democracy to function. Traditionally this has led to heated conflicts about linguistic justice, linguistic rights, regimes and policies in areas where people were using several languages next to each other and relations between linguistic groups were strained. In recent decades, many globalization processes, most notably transnational migration, have increasingly boost linguistic diversity (both in terms of the numbers of multilingual persons and the numbers of languages used in any specific place), especially in cities and poses an increasingly pressing challenge to political institutions (state and non-state) to accommodate it. This session aims at advancing new political geographies of linguistic diversity, by examining the geographical aspects of the ways it is represented and the ways it is practiced and performed or opposed. We welcome papers dealing with the conceptual methodological and theoretical aspects of political geographies of multilingualism, with cases studies including historical cases, and with comparative studies, at all scale levels (local, regional, national, trasnsnational and global).



Geopolitics of climate change

Steven Radil



The changing global climate has become a focus for the geopolitical agency of a diverse set of actors while also forming a varied environmental context which conditions the exercise of these agencies. For instance, climate change is a source of both cooperation and disagreement among states, a rallying point and source of action for a varied set of non-state, supra-state, and civil society actors, and a lived (though widely varied) circumstance for everyday people within places. A significant portion of the growing literature on the (geo)politics of climate change has emphasized environmental context as a structure with negative impacts. This is seen most clearly in the climate change and conflict literature which explores how newly adverse environmental factors negatively affect people directly, such as disrupting agriculture-based livelihoods and local food chains, contributing to migrations that can destabilize existing political/territorial arrangements, and causing competition for access to scarcer resources like clean water. This is a salient and meaningful approach to intersection of geopolitics and climate but also a partial one. Less explored is how climate change is differently understood by people within particular places, how climate change is politicized for particular purposes at all scale levels, how climate changes may benefit certain actors at the expense of others, how the discourses of climate change may provide new opportunities for particular geopolitical actors to achieve their goals, or how climate change may be a source of cooperation or peace. This session aims to advance engagement with the geopolitics of climate change from a variety of perspectives. Papers are welcome that address the intersections of geopolitics and climate both theoretically and analytically.




CPG-related joint sessions


C12.06 Cold Region Environments AND C12.33 Political Geography

Defining priorities for the Antarctic Sustainability Science



V.S Tikunov



Antarctica is now known to be experiencing relentless change. Local transformations such as the loss of ice, changes in ocean circulation and recovery of atmospheric ozone have global consequences — for climate, sea level, biodiversity and society. Antarctic science is clearly becoming more and more globally important. Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) convened 75 scientists and policy-makers from 22 countries recently has agreed on six priorities for Antarctic research for the next two decades and beyond. All of them need trans- and multidisciplinary scientific approaches. One of them is the Recognition and mitigation of human influences. Forecasts of human activities and their impacts on the region are required for effective Antarctic governance and regulation. Natural and human impacts must be disentangled. How effective are current regulations in controlling access? How do global policies affect people’s motivations to visit the region? How will humans and pathogens affect and adapt to Antarctic environments? What is the current and potential value of Antarctic ecosystem services and how can they be preserved? Answering these many questions will require sustainable science, growth in international cooperation and improved communication among all interested parties. Such questions as how to maximizing scientific return and coordinated international efforts that engage diverse stakeholders will be the main point of the discussion at this session.

C12.10 Gender & Geography Commission AND C12.33 Political Geography Commission

Gender Activisms in Asia: Peoples, Places and Politics

Shirlena Huang (Gender & Geography Commission)


Chih Yuan Woon (Political Geography Commission)



This session seeks to critically interrogate the notion of gender activism – its discourses, images and impacts – and to examine the sites and politics of feminist engagements across a spectrum of moments, movements and mobilizations specifically in the Asian context. Whilst there has been increasing attention paid to the impetuses, organization and outcomes of activist movements in Asia, the gendered dimensions remain under-theorized and under-researched in these works. We therefore invite papers, theoretical and/or empirical, that reflect on the difference that gender – and its intersecting dimensions of race/ethnicity, class, nationality, immigration status and so on – makes to the diverse geographies of activism in Asia. Themes may include, but are by no means limited to: The politics of women and protest, The embodied and emotional aspects of activism, Transgender and queer activism, Gender and transnational activism, Gender activism and the state, Political agendas and sites of gender activism, Digital landscapes of gender activism



C12.20 Commission on the History of Geography AND

C12.33 Commission on Political Geography

Rethinking what (political) geography ought to be: Theories, histories, and practices of geography and geopolitics as instruments of peace

Takashi Yamazaki


Alexey V. Postnikov



How have (political) geographers defined ‘peace’ as opposed to ‘war’ in their discipline? And why? These questions may sound very simple but have not been seriously investigated. Following the successful joint session between the two commissions in the IGU Krakow Regional Conference, this joint session pursues and advances the same theme of geography and peace one step further. While focusing on the historical development of geographical knowledge as a tool for fostering peace, cultural tolerance and mutual understanding at different scales, this session explores historical and contemporary practices for peace promoted by geographers at various places in the world. Papers on thoughts and/or practices by geographers, whether well-known or not, across the world are welcome.


Abstract submission http://www.igu2015.ru/instruction-abstract-submission

More information about the conference at http://www.igu2015.ru/

More information about sessions of other IGU Commissions see http://www.igu2015.ru/sites/default/files/public/session_list_09dec2014.pdf


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