Human Geography


Research at the 'Human Geography' unit of the Department of Geography at the University of Zürich focuses on processes of ‚development’ and change from local to global level, applying a range of contemporary theoretical approaches from social and new cultural geography. Ongoing research projects take place in South, Southeast and Central Asia, East Africa and Switzerland, and are engaged with

  • challenges to rural livelihoods and the politics of development,
  • migration, asylum seeking, multi-locality and development,
  • spatial appropriation, nature conservation, and
  • geographies of youth and education.

Regarding teaching, the unit is engaged at the Bachelor (B.Sc.), Master (M.Sc.), and doctoral (Ph.D.) levels.

In collaboration with three institutions from two other Swiss universities, the unit has created a common doctoral programme on issues of global change, innovation, and sustainable development: the International Graduate School North-South.

New Publications



Graf, S. (2016). Diaspora tourism and the negotiation of belonging: journeys of young second-generation Eritreans to Eritrea, Ethnic and Racial Studies. Online



Graf, S. & Thieme, S. (2016). "We look similar and have the same geographical origin": translocal encounters of second-generation Eritreans with a new generation of refugees from Eritrea, Geographica Helvetica, 71, 331-340. Online



Poertner, E. (2017). Governing asylum through configurations of productivity and deterrence: Effects on the spatiotemporal trajectories of cases in Switzerland. Geoforum, 78, 12–21, in press. Online



Keller, R. (2016). Ökosystemleistungen in der Schweiz. Chancen, Risiken und Nebenwirkungen bei der praktischen Anwendung. Bern, Haupt, 149 S. Weitere Infos & Bestellung



Lund, J. F., Sungusia, E., Mabele, M. B. & Scheba, A. (2016). Promising Change, Delivering Continuity: REDD+ as Conservation Fad, World Development. In: World Development, in press. Online



Wartmann, F., Haller, T. & Backhaus, N. (2016). Institutional Shopping for Natural Resource Management. In: Human Organization, 75(3): 218-229. Online



Mathieu, J., Backhaus, N., Hürlimann, K. & Bürgi, M. (Hrsg.) (2016). Geschichte der Landschaft in der Schweiz. Zürich: Orell Füssli. Publisher's Page
and therein

Backhaus, N., Hammer, T. & Siegrist, D. (2016). Wissenschaft, Politik, Planung. In: Mathieu, J., Backhaus, N., Hürlimann, K. & Bürgi, M. (Hrsg.) Geschichte der Landschaft in der Schweiz. Zürich: Orell Füssli, pp. 240–253.