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Space, Place and Identity

GEO 6473, Spring 2010


Class Location: Chemistry and Physics 117    Time: 4:00-6:45 p.m. Wednesday

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

Office: DM 437B   Office Phone: 348-2074

Office Hours: MWF: 1:30-1:50; M: 3:00-4:30; W: 3:00-3:50


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

Readings: http://online.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.


For those of you taking this as part of your IR core, 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.   For those of you not in IR, hopefully this grab bag approach will lead you to a literature you had not yet considered.


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.   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 and Thought Pieces


Doing this slightly differently this semester.  By noon on the day of seminar, you will need to login to http://online.fiu.edu and go to the link for this class.  You then need to open the discussion tab, and find the forum for the week’s topic. 


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. 


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



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 “–“ if it is turned in, but showed lack of effort; or 0 if it is not turned in.



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 Monday, November 10.  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 Monday, Dec. 9.   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: January 6 – Introductions


Week 2: January 13 – 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 Timbuctoo” Environment 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:  January 20 – 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. “Bringing Back the (B)order: Post-9/11 Politics of Immigration, Borders, and Belonging in the Contemporary US South.” Antipode 39.5 (2007): 920-942

6.       “Benedict Anderson” in Key Thinkers




Week 4:   January 27 – “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:   February 3 – 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 Organisations” Geoforum. 32.2 (2001): 181-198.

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



Week 6:   February 10  – 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:   February 17 –  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:   February 24  – 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:   March 3 – 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: March 10  – 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.      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.      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.

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:  March 17 -- Spring Break


Week 12: March 24    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 13: March 31 – 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 14: April 7 –  For Space and First Presentations


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

2.       “Doreen Massey” in Key Thinkers…



Week 15: April 14 – No Class AAG


Week 16: Date TBA (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.