Teaching Homepage


Space, Place and Identity

GEO 6473, Fall 2010


Class Location: DM 323 Time: 5:00-7:45 p.m. Tuesday

Seminar Facilitator:  Ben Smith     Email: bsmith@fiu.edu

Office: DM 437B   Office Phone: 348-2074

Office Hours: Tuesday 3:30-4:45 (Thursday afternoons by appointment, or before and after class)


Teaching Homepage: http://www.fiu.edu/~bsmith/teaching.htm

Readings: http://ecampus.fiu.edu


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.    Because of the wide-ranging nature of the readings, hopefully everyone will see some of what they are interested in within the course.


On top of this, for those of you taking this as part of your IR core, SPI has a special role as well.   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). 


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.  While I try to put the readings in context (letting you guess my thinking behind them), it is not my job to lecture – my role is as a facilitator for all of us to have a discussion and for all of you to have a chance to get your questions answered.   While I don’t like to (and thankfully, normally don’t have to), I will start calling on people with questions if the discussion starts to ebb, so be prepared with something to say.



Using Ecampus/Moodle & Your First Assignment


This is probably going to be the first time most of you have used Moodle (it certainly is mine).    So there will be a feeling out process, but here is what I know:


1.      Go to http://ecampus.fiu.edu

2.      Scroll down to the bottom of the page – click the eCampus Login button.


1.      Use your FIU email ID and password to login.

2.      In the upper-right corner, is a box called my courses.  This one is GEO 6473.  Click on it.

3.      First thing you need to do is go to the left-hand column and click on “Profile”.     Once there, you should do several things.

a.       Click the “Edit Profile” tab.

b.      Unless you want to get an email every time anyone posts anything in a forum, change the box next to “Forum auto-subscribe” to “No: don’t automatically subscribe me to forums”

c.       It would probably be good to set “Forum tracking” to “Yes” so it is easy to see which posts you have and have not read.

d.      Please put a picture up.   It doesn’t have to be of you, but it is nice to have some sort of avatar for everyone so we can see who did what on the forums.

e.       The rest of it is up to you if you do it or don’t

4.      For your first assignment, I want you to go into the forum under “Getting to Know Each Other Week” and follow the instructions there to make a bio post.  Everyone please post their bios using the “Add a new discussion topic,” not by replying to each other’s posts.


Weekly Questions and Thought Pieces


By noon on the day of seminar, you will need to login to http://ecampus.fiu.edu and click on the link for this course.   Then, go to the appropriate week, and click on the discussion forum (it has a little button that looks like this Forum Icon  ). 


In that forum, you need to put a single post that includes two things:

1.      A 600-900 word “thought piece” which touches on ALL the assigned readings for the week (more on this below).

2.      Two questions for discussion in class.  These questions can be points you were unclear on, or perhaps something you think would get a cracking good discussion going. 


To make this post, hit the “Add a new discussion topic” button.   In the “Subject” box, please type your name.   In the message box, please place both your thought piece and questions.  You can type directly into the box, but I would suggest using another program like Word to type your response and questions first, and then simply copy the text into the message box.


A couple of DO NOTs

1.       DO NOT make your initial post as a reply to someone else’s post.  Hit the  Add a new discussion topic” button to make your first post.   However, you are of course free to reply to each other’s posts if you want (although it is not required).

2.      DO NOT include your thought piece and questions as an attachment.   It just takes everyone more time to look at yours if you do that.


Once noon has passed, you should take time (provided you have it) to read over each others’ posts, so we are ready to discuss.


This writing and sharing is probably the single most beneficial part of the class – it allows you to collect your own thoughts and learn from the thoughts of your fellow students.



Weekly Thought Pieces


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 a single 600-900 word commentary each week, focusing on all 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.).  It must also contain some original thoughts, analysis 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.  These thoughts don’t have to be incredibly refined – they do have to be there.


Again, to repeat, I only want one 600-900  word commentary from you each week.  That one commentary should address all the readings, but also show some original thoughts.   


I expect them to be ready by noon for each 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. Continually sub-par work will be rewarded as such – and apparent to all your hard-working peers.


Each week, you will receive  +” for doing the assignment; a “+L” if it is turned in late but done correctly,  a “–“ if it is turned in, but showed lack of effort; or 0 if it is not turned in.


Additionally, once (and only once) during the semester, you are allowed to pass on a week’s readings (if you are going to conference, or out of town, or are sick).   To use your pass, you still have to make a new post in the forum, but just write “Pass” in the message box.  This will be scored as a “+P”.



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 in a single paper.   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, analysis and/or 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 situated 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 given week.  Or maybe you have made some surprising connections 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 your 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 theory in your discipline.  


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 2.  It must be typed, printed and stapled, and handed to me during that day’s meeting.   The other two must be handed in at the beginning of class on Tuesday, Dec. 7.   Late papers will lose points rapidly and I won’t do incompletes this time.


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 two 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 http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/plagiarism.html or “Paraphrase: Write it in Your Own Words” at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/research/r_paraphr.html



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. 


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.


The rest of the readings I am distributing to you online.


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


Week 1: August 24 – Introductions


Week 2: August 31 – Imaginative Geographies


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

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

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

4.      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.

5.      “Edward Said” and “Derek Gregory” in Key Thinkers…


Week 3:  September 7 – Making Others/Making Us: 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.      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

4.      Anna Secor.  “Between longing and despair: state, space, and subjectivity in Turkey  Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 25.1  (2007): 33-52

5.      Jamie Winders. "An 'Incomplete' Picture? Race, Latino Migration, and Urban Politics in Nashville, Tennessee." Urban Geography 29.3 (2008): 246-263

6.       “Benedict Anderson” in Key Thinkers


Week 4:   September 14 – “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 5:   September 21 – 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.      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.

5.      Linda McDowell. “Men, Management and Multiple Masculinities in OrganisationsGeoforum. 32.2 (2001): 181-198.

6.       “Judith Butler” and “Donna Haraway” in Key Thinkers in Space and Place


Week 6:   September 28  Thoughts on Space


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

2.      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

3.      Sallie Marston, John Paul Jones, Keith Woodward “Human geography without scale”  Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 30 (2005): 416–432

4.      John-David Dewsbury “Witnessing space: `knowledge without contemplation'” Environment and Planning A 35 (2003): 1907-1932

5.      Richard Schein “The Place of Landscape: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting an American Scene” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 87.4 (1997): 660-680

6.       “Michel Foucault” and “Gilles Deleuze” in Key Thinkers…


Week 7:   October 5   Spaces of Economic Diversity


1.      Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff. “A Marxian Theory of Class” from Knowledge and Class: A Marxian Critique of Political Economy.  University of Chicago Press, 1987.  109-163.

2.      David Harvey “Crisis in the Space Economy of Capitalism: The Dialectics of Imperialism” in The Limits to Capital. University of Chicago Press, 1982.  413-442.

3.      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.

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

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

6.      “David Harvey  in Key Thinkers…



Week 8:   October 12  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.       “Arturo Escobar” in Key Thinkers…


Week 9:   October 19 – State Space 2: Multiple Scales of the State and Politics


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

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

3.      Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. “Hegemony and Radical Democracy” from Hegemony and Socialist Strategy.   Verso. 1985. 149-194.

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

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.      Gearoid O Tuathail” in Key Thinkers…



Week 10: October 26  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.      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.

3.      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.

4.      Jonathan Phillips. “The perfect landscape.” Geomorphology 84.3-4 (2007): 159-169.

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

6.      “Michael Watts” in Key Thinkers…


Week 11: November 2    The Field First Critical Essay Due


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 12: November 9 – Theorizing Geographies of Globalization


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

3.      John Law “And if the global were small and noncoherent? Method, complexity, and the baroque” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 22.1 (2004): 13-26

4.      Susan Roberts, Anna Secor, Matthew Sparke “Neoliberal Geopolitics” Antipode 35.5 (2003): 886-897

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

6.        “Manuel Castells” and in Key Thinkers


Week 13: November 16   For Space


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

2.       “Doreen Massey” in Key Thinkers…



Week 14: Reading/Writing Week – No class meeting


Week 15: November 30 – First Presentations


Week 16: December 7 (Finals Week) – Remainder of Presentations AND Final 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.