Space, Place and Identity

GEO 6473, Fall 2007


Class Location: HLS 125    Time: 2:00-4:45 p.m. Monday

Seminar Facilitator:  Ben Smith     Email:

Office: DM 437B   Office Phone: 348-2074

Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 11:15 -11:45; Wednesday 2:00-5:00 or by appointment


Teaching Homepage:



So you want to learn about Star Trek, coming in second in horse racing, and government issued photo cards?


Unfortunately, none of those will be covered in this seminar’s readings.    Instead, we will be focusing on the intersection of what have undoubtedly become three “keywords” that transcend most social science disciplines, as well as many of the arts and humanities: space, place, and identity.    Indeed, what I hope you come to glimpse through this seminar is the deep-seated role ideas of space and place have in the formation of all types of identities – not just those of individual subjects and groups, but of regions, institutions, practices and even ecosystems.


As I see it, the other courses in the core immerse you in International Relations theory and method, to make you a specialist in that discipline.   The job of this course is just the opposite – to make you a generalist; to help you converse with a wider academic community and help you make connections outside your discipline.


The way I have structured the course is to make it a survey of contemporary spatial thought in the social sciences, covering various topics such as gender, nationalism, the field, the state, economy, nature, etc.    It will be a little heavy on geography – but then again, geography is the super-best #1 discipline for addressing issues of space and place (and it happens to be what I am trained in).  That being said, in IR spatial issues like territory, connection, isolation, and identity all loom large, so everyone should get something out of this.



Seminar Requirements & Grades


To make this a good seminar experience for everyone, you will have to 1) read all the required reading, every week, even if it is lengthy/difficult and 2) come prepared and ready to our weekly meetings so that we all can learn from each other.   To make sure you reap maximum reward out of this reading and sharing, you need to 3) write about it.


To provide the incentive to do all this, I have to assign grades.   Grades in the seminar will be broken down in the following manner:


Seminar attendance participation                           25%

Weekly questions for discussion                             5%

Weekly thought pieces                                        20%

3 Critical Essays                                                   50% (15, 15, 20)



Seminar Attendance & Participation


First off, to get the most out of the seminar, you have to be there, every week, on time.   The only valid excuses are if you have a medically validated illness or you are presenting at an academic conference.  Or, if the campus is destroyed by a hurricane.    Not feeling like it, having other things to do, traffic and work are not excuses.    


But showing up is only a fraction of it.  You also have be alert and ready to participate.   I am not going to lecture much at all – my role is facilitator for all of us to have a discussion.  That being said, I will be using something Neumann and Hollander call a “modified Socratic method.”  This basically means I will call on people (especially if discussion is dying down) to answer questions about the text(s).  And, as Hollander beautifully put it: “Continued failure to adequately respond to these questions, that is, to demonstrate that you have read and wrestled with the assigned texts, will lower your participation grade.”  



Weekly Questions for Discussion


At the beginning of each class session, you will hand into to me two typed and printed questions from the reading.  These questions can be points you were unclear on, or perhaps something you think would get a cracking good discussion going. 



Weekly Thought Pieces (Edited for clarity)

To make sure you have thoughts to share each week, and also have some notes available as you prepare for qualifying exams and thesis writing, each of you are to write one single 500-750 word commentary each week, focusing on the assigned readings.   A commentary should give a brief informal abstract of EACH AND EVERY ONE of the readings (with the exception of the Key Thinkers.. readings, which are already summaries) assigned for the week (a few sentences on what it is about, what the author argued, what it speaks to, etc.), plus some thoughts and/or criticisms on whatever you found striking in the readings: maybe how they connected together (or disagreed), or maybe a way a particular theory or method was used, or maybe a novel interpretation, etc. 


You have to turn in your thought pieces to me in printed and typed form at the start of every class session.   I am not expecting you to turn out The Sublime Object of Ideology, but I do expect you try your best to be grammatically correct, analytically bold and to not just babble on with no structure. Also, do not try to trick me with big margins or large font – I was trained at a journalism school and can spot funky layouts a mile away.  Continually sub-par work will be rewarded as such.



Critical Essays

Because the various weeks’ readings all focus on issues of space, place and identity, but do so in fairly diverse contexts, I will not make you go through the whiplash-inducing process of connecting them all together.   Instead, what I am asking for are three 1750-2000 word essays, the best of which will be presented to the group at the end of the seminar.[1]   Ideally they will be expansions of the “thoughts/criticisms on whatever you found striking in the reading” from some of your weekly summaries, and not merely abstracting once again what the articles were about.  In other words, this is your chance for bold critical thinking.    And by critical thinking, I don’t mean just looking at an article and declaring “It Stinks.”   It means that you engage the readings, appreciating the context in which they were written and being humbly aware of the context from which you, as a situation reader, approach the readings.  This is a chance to push your boundaries as a thinker and writer. 


As for how to structure the essays, I hope you vary the approaches you take in the papers.

1.      One approach is to vary the scale of your analysis.  For example, if one particular passage or sub-section really grabs you, you can write an in-depth analysis of it.  Maybe it will be one paper, or a few of the papers from a giving week.  Or maybe you have made some surprising across papers from different weeks. 

2.      Another approach is to vary the focus of the essay – for example (and please don’t limit yourselves to these), one time discuss what type of intellectual inquiry a group of readings make possible and what they ignore, another time discuss how theory is translated into empirically enquiry, or maybe how those people working as professionals or activists might be able to apply lessons from the readings to transform society.   

3.      Yet another approach – and one I hope you all take in one of the essays – is to espouse on how some of the readings might enrich research you hope to undertake, or – if you don’t yet have a clue what you want to research – how these readings inform, or maybe transform IR theory.  


Basically, I don’t want to see the same paper from you three times, just focusing on different articles.


I want to see a much higher level of polish on these in terms of structure, grammar, and analysis than in the weekly thought pieces.    Papers that score well will show rigorous, internally consistent thought that engages the readings in their context.   Please note: these are not research papers, these are analysis papers.  You do not need to collect a bunch of outside sources.


To prevent you from leaving all three thought papers until the last minute (and to get some feedback from me), I will make the first one due on or before Tuesday, November 15 (which is the day after Veterans Day).  It must be typed, printed and stapled, and put in the letter tray next to my office door.   The other two must be handed in at the beginning of class on Monday, Dec. 11.   Late papers will lose points rapidly and I don’t do incompletes.


Also, so everyone in the seminar knows what you are thinking, you are going to choose your best paper to present in class.  This will be done during the last two sessions of the seminar.   This paper will be weighted slightly higher than your other two.


Academic Integrity


Do not plagiarize.   If you do, I will hunt you down, or even worse, have the meanest of my three cats hunt you down.   


Seriously, this course is not about producing the world-shifting treatise on space, place and identity.  It is about you getting in the habit of writing and thinking in a critical and professional manner concerning work in the wider social science community, and imagining how you might become a part of that community.  That means the most important thing you can do is try your best – and plagiarism is not trying.


If you don’t know what plagiarism is, or its consequences, let me cite Rod Neumann’s 2006 syllabus for this course:


The disciplinary action that will be taken in the case of plagiarism is explained in the section on “Academic Misconduct” in the FIU Student Handbook. If you are uncertain about what constitutes plagiarism, check out the websites: “Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It (Indiana University)” at or “Paraphrase: Write it in Your Own Words” at



Required Readings


In an effort to save you from having to buy lots of books, and to give a wider sampling of thought, most of the readings in this course will be articles/book chapters/sections of books.  I will make them available as we go along.


There are two required books for the seminar. The books are:


  1. Massey, Doreen. For Space.  Sage Publications, Ltd.  2005. – This is a good overview of space, place and identity written by one of the most recognized authors on the subject.
  2. Hubbard, Phil; Kitchin, Rob; and Valentine, Gill.   Key Thinkers on Space and Place.   Sage Publications Ltd. 2004. – This should be handy for you to contextualize the work of some of the big names we read this semester.


Readings Schedule (subject to hurricane and instructor initiated changes):


Week 1: August 27 – Introductions


Week 2: September 3 – Labor Day, No Class. Start Readings


Week 3:  September 10 – Introduction to Space, Place and Identity


1.      Doreen Massey. For Space.  Sage Publications, Ltd.  2005.

2.      Nicholas Clifford, Matthew Sparke and Doreen Massey. Exchange on For Space from Progress in Human Geography 31.3 (2007): 389-405

3.      “Doreen Massey” in Key Thinkers…


Week 4:   September 17 – Imaginative Geographies


1.      Edward Said. “Introduction” and “Imaginative Geography and Its Representations: Orientalizing the Oriental Orientalism.  Vintage, 1979. 1-28 and 49-73

2.      Michael Heffernan. ``A Dream as Frail as Those of Ancient Time'': The In-credible Geographies of Timbuctoo” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 19.2 (2001): 203-225

3.      Derek Gregory. “Architectures of Enmity” and  “‘Civilization’ and ‘Barbarism’” The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq. Blackwell, 2004. 15-29 and 47-75.

4.      Trevor J. Barnes and Matthew Farish.  “Between Regions: Science, Militarism, and American Geography from World War to Cold War” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 96.4 (2006): 807–826.

5.      Jeffrey Sasha Davis. “Representing Place: ‘Deserted Isles’ and the Reproduction of Bikini Atoll.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95.3 (2005): 607–625.

6.      “Edward Said” “Derek Gregory” and “Trevor Barnes” in Key Thinkers…



Week 5:   September 24 – Making Others: Constructions of Nationalism and Race


1.                                    Benedict Anderson. “Introduction” “Cultural Roots” and “The Origins of National Consciousness” Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.  Verso, 1991. 1-46.

2.      Anne McClintock. “No Longer in a Future Heaven: Nationalism, Gender and Race” in Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest.  Routledge,1995. 353-389.

3.      Jamie Winders. “Changing Politics of Race and Region: Latino Migration to the US South.  Progress in   Human Geography 29.6 (2005): 683–699

4.      Joshua Hagen. “The Most German of Towns: Creating an Ideal Nazi Community in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.”  Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 94.1 (2004): 207–227

5.      Eric Olund. “Cosmopolitanism’s Collateral Damage: The State-organized Racial Violence of World War I and the War on Terror.”   Violent Geographies: Fear, Terror, and Political Violence.  Eds. Gregory and Pred.  Blackwell. 2006

6.      “Benedict Anderson” in Key Thinkers



Week 6:   October 1 – “Culture” and Postcoloniality


1.      Gayarti Chakravorty Spviak.  “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (Abridged Version) The Postcolonial Studies Reader.  Eds. Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin.  Routledge, 1995.  24-28

2.      Homi K. Bhabha. “Introductions: Locations of Culture” and “The commitment to theory” The Location of Culture.  Routledge, 1994. 1-39

3.      Uma Narayan.  “Cross-Cultural Connections, Border-Crossings, and ‘Death by Culture’: Thinking About Dowry Murders in India and Domestic Violence Murders in the United States.” Disclocating Cultures.   Routledge, 1997.  81-117

4.      Donald Mitchell. “There's No Such Thing as Culture: Towards a Reconceptualization of the Idea of Culture in Geography.”  Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 20.1 (1995): 102-116

5.      Ian Cook and Michelle Harrison. “Cross Over Food: Re-materializing Postcolonial Geographies.”  Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.  28.3 (2003): 296–317

6.       “Homi K. Bhabha” and “Gayarti Chakravorty Spviak” in Key Thinkers…



Week 7:   October 8 – Gender, Sexuality, and Space


1.      Judith Butler.  “Bodily Inscriptions, Performative Subversions” and “Conclusion: From Parody to Politics” Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.  Routledge, 1999. 163-190.

2.      Chandra Talpade Mohanty. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discoures” in Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation & Postcolonial Perspectives. University of Minnesota Press, 1997. 255-277.

3.      Donna Haraway. Excerpts from “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies. 14.3 (1988): 575-599.

4.      Rose, Gillian.   “Looking at Landscape: The Uneasy Pleasures of Power” in Feminism and Geography: the limits of geographical knowledge. University of Minnesota Press, 1993. 86-112.   

5.      Gill Valentine. “(Hetero)Sexing Space: Lesbian Perceptions and Experiences of Everyday Spaces.”  Space, Gender, Knowledge: Feminist Readings.  Eds. McDowell and Sharp.  Arnold, 1997. 284-300.

6.      Linda McDowell. “Men, Management and Multiple Masculinities in Organisations” Geoforum. 32.2 (2001): 181-198.

7.       “Gillian Rose” “Judith Butler” and “Donna Haraway” in Key Thinkers in Space and Place



Week 8:   October 15 – Spaces of Economic Diversity


1.      David Harvey. “The Spatial Fix” Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography.   Routledge, 2001. 284-312 

2.      J.K. Gibson-Graham. “Strategies” The End of Capitalism (as we knew it): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy.  Blackwell, 1996. 1-23.

3.      Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift. “Introduction” The Cultural Economy Reader. Eds. Amin and Thrift. Blackwell.  2004. x-xxx. 

4.      Andrew Leyshon, et al.  “Towards an Ecology of Retail Financial Services: Understanding the Persistence of Door-to-door Credit and Insurance Providers.” Environment and Planning A. 36.4 (2004): 625-645.

5.      Melissa Wright. “Asian spies, American Motors, and Speculations on the Space-time of Value.” Environment and Planning A. 33.12 (2001): 2175-2188.

6.      Daniel Miller. “Making Love in Supermarkets.” The Cultural Economy Reader. Eds. Amin and Thrift. Blackwell.  2004. 251-265.

7.      Jane Pollard and Michael Samers. “Islamic Banking and Finance: Postcolonial Political Economy and the Decentring of Economic Geography.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 32 313–330 2007

8.       “David Harvey” and “Nigel Thrift” in Key Thinkers



Week 9:   October 22 – State Space 1: Development and Neoliberalism


1.      Arturo Escobar.  “The Problematization of Poverty: The Tale of Three Worlds and Development”  in Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World.  Princeton. 1995.

2.      James Ferguson “Conceptual Apparatus: The Constitution of the Object of “Development” – Lesotho as “Less Developed Country”.   The Anti-Politics Machine: “Development”, Depoliticization and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho.   Minnesota, 1994.  25-75

3.      Nanda Shrestha “Becoming a Development Category.” Power of Development. Ed. Jonathan Crush.  Routledge, 1995. 266-278

4.      Jamie Peck and Adam Tickell. “Neoliberalizing Space” Anitpode.  34.3 (2002): 380-404

5.      Anna Tsing. “Inside the Economy of Appearances” in Globalization.  Ed. Arjun Appadurai.   Duke University Press, 2001. 155-188.

6.      Katharyne Mitchell.  Educating the National Citizen in Neoliberal Times: From the Multicultural Self to the Strategic Cosmopolitan” Transactions of the Institute of British Geograpthers. 28.4 (2003): 387–403

7.      Joanne Sharp, John Briggs, Hoda Yacoub and Nabila Hamed. “Doing Gender and Development: Understanding Empowerment and Local Gender Relations” Transactions of the  Institute of British Geographers 28.3 (2003): 281–295

8.       “Arturo Escobar” in Key Thinkers…



Week 10: October 29 – State Space 2: Multiple Scales of the State


1.      Michel Foucault “Panopticism” in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.  Vintage Press, 1995. 195-228

2.      Giorgio Agamben.  “The State of Exception as Paradigm of Government” in State of Exception.   University of Chicago Press, 2005. 1-31.

3.      Slavoj Zizek.   “Fantasy as a Political Category: A Lacanian Approach.” in The Zizek Reader.  Eds. Wright and Wright. Blackwell, 1999. 87-102.

4.      Gearoid O Tuathail.  “Geopolitics” and “Critical Geopolitics” Critical Geopolitcs.  University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 21-74.

5.      Alison Mountz “Human Smuggling, the Transnational Imaginary, and Everyday Geographies of the Nation-State” Antipode 35.3 (2003): 622-644.

6.      Jason Dittmer.  “Captain America’s Empire: Reflections on Identity, Popular Culture, and Post-9/11 Geopolitics.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 95.3 (2005): 626–643

7.      Anna Secor. ‘‘There Is an Istanbul That Belongs to Me’’: Citizenship, Space, and Identity in the City.  Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 94.2 (2004): 352–368

8.      “Michel Foucault” and “Gearoid O Tuathail” in Key Thinkers…



Week 11: November 5   – Social Natures


1.      Bruce Williams Braun. “Buried Epistemologies: The Politics of Nature in (Post)Colonial British Columbia.”  Annals of the Association of American Geographers.  Vol. 87.1 (1997): 3-31

2.      Erik Swengedow “Scaled Geographies; Nature, Place and the Politics of Scale.”  In Scale & Geographic Inquiry: Nature Society and Method.  Eds. Sheppard and McMaster. Blackwell, 2004. 129-153

3.      Michael Watts. “Violent Environments: Petroleum Conflict and the Political Ecology of Rule in the Niger Delta, Nigeria” in Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements.  Eds. Peet and Watts.  Routledge, 1996. 273-298.

4.      James C. Scott “Nature and Space” in Seeing Like a State: How Certain schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed.  Yale University Press. 1998. 11-52.

5.      Kay Anderson.  “Culture and Nature at the Adelaide Zoo: At the Frontiers of ‘Human” Geography”.  Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.  Vol. 20.3 (1995):  275-294.

6.      Paul Robbins and Julie Sharp. “Producing and Consuming Chemicals: The Moral Economy of the American Lawn.” Economic Geography. 79.4 (2003): 435-451

7.      “Michael Watts” in Key Thinkers…



Week 12: November 12 – Veteran’s Day, No Class

November 13 – First Critical Essay Due



Week 13: November 19 –   The Field

No Class Meeting: Ben Smith at MESA,



1.      Latour, Bruno “Circulating Reference: Sampling Soil in the Amazon Rainforest” Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies.  Harvard. 1999.  24-79.

2.      Latour, Bruno.  “Mixing Humans and Non-Humans Together: The Sociology of a Door Closer.”   Social Problems.  Vol. 35.3 (1988): 298-310.

3.      Akhil Gupta and James Ferguson.  “Discipline and Practice: “The Field” as Site, Method, and Location in Anthropology.” Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. University of California Press, 1997. 1-46.

4.      Cindi Katz.  “Playing the Field: Questions of Fieldwork in Geography”  Professional Geographer.  46.1 (1994): 67-72.

5.      Dydia Delyser.  ““Do you really live here? Thoughts on Insider Research.””  The Geographical Review.  91. 1-2(2001): 441-453.

6.      Karen E. Till “Returning to Home and the Field” The Geographical Review.  91.1-2(2001): 46-56.

7.       “Bruno Latour” in Key Thinkers…



Week 14: November 26 – Theorizing Geographies of Globalization (& Discuss the Field)


1.      Gibson-Graham, J.K. “Querying Globalization” The End of Capitalism (as we knew it): A Feminist Critique of Political economy.  Blackwell, 1996. 120-147.

2.      Neil Smith “The Satanic Geographies of Globalization: Uneven Development in the 1990’s” Public Culture 10.1: 169-189

3.      Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri “Preface” and “World Order” in Empire.  Harvard University Press. 2000. xi-22.

4.      Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari “Introduction: Rhizome” and “The Smooth and the Striated” in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.   University of Minnesota Press, 1987. 3-25 and 474-500

5.      Leslie Sklair “Introduction” and “Globalizing Class Theory” in The Transnational Capitalist Class. Blackwell, 2001. 1-33

6.      Timothy Mitchell “McJihad: Islam in U.S. Global Order” Social Text 20.4 (2002): 1-18.

7.        “Manuel Castells” and “Gilles Deleuze” in Key Thinkers



Week 15: December 3 – Presentations


Week 16: December 10 – Presentations

    December 11 – Other Two Critical Essays Due




[1] This idea of the expanded thought papers, and suggestions on how to write them, come from a Concepts in Geography syllabus by John Paul Jones III created in Spring 2001.