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'Buffer Zone: Sri Lanka ten years after the tsunami' is the new documentary film in which Pia Hollenbach participated and was shown on Swiss and German television as well screened in selected cinemas. The DVD is now available in the GIUZ library.

Upcoming Events

various dates: Polit seminar FS15

Meet the team and join the discussion in one of the many events (presentations, seminars, ...) scheduled this semester. Download the programme here (PDF, 126 Kb).


08.09. - 11.09.2015: Summer school announcement

The Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, the Conflict Research Group, Ghent University, and the Department of Geography, University of Zürich, in collaboration with Roskilde University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences organize a four-day PhD course from 8-11 September 2015.The theme of the course is Governance at the Edge of the state: Public authority and property in conflict environments.

Download the programme here (PDF, 98 Kb) or follow this link.

Recent Publications

Vogel, C. (2014): Contested Statehood, Security Dilemmas and Militia Politics: The Rise and Transformation of Raïa Mutomboki in eastern DRC. L'Afrique des Grand Lacs: Annuaire 2013/2014. Paris: L'Harmattan: pp. 299-324.

Byrne, S. & Shrestha, G. (2014). A compromising consensus? Legitimising local government in post-conflict Nepal. In: International Development Planning Review, 36(4), 434–453.


Political Geography

Department of Geography
University of Zurich (Irchel)
Winterthurerstr. 190
CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland

E-Mail: perscheng.assef@no.spam.geo.uzh.no.spam.ch

Political Geography

Political geography is the study of the spaces of politics and the politics of space. Our research unit is particularly interested in the political geographies at the margins of a globalizing world. We study the spatial politics of violent conflict, uneven development and state building in Africa and South Asia. SOTOMO is an associated research unit studying Swiss social and political geography.

About us

We study the intricate relations between violence, politics, and space. Drawing on the interdisciplinary field of geography, anthropology, political ecology and international relations, we conduct qualitative extended case studies in different parts of the world, principally in South and Southeast Asia (Nepal, Sri Lanka, Borneo), Africa (Ethiopia, DR Congo) and Europe, as well as in the transnational contexts of migration and humanitarian aid. Methodologically, our research is grounded in qualitative fieldwork. For more detail about our unit and our research please click here

Recent Announcements

April 2015

The new book by Timothy Raeymaekers titled 'Violent Capitalism and Hybrid Identity in the Eastern Congo: Power to the Margins' has received a very positive review in the May/June 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs. The review by Nicolas van de Walle can be accessed via this link on the Foreign Affairs website.

On 16 April, the Political Geography Unit welcomed Davide Chinigò from the University of Bologna to give a talk about claimed space and contested authority in dealing with agrarian transformation in the Malawian tea economy.

March 2015

On 4 March, Christoph Vogel was invited to a study day on 'conflict minerals' in Brussels, where he gave a presentation on the local impact of current mineral traceability schemes in Eastern Congo. The programme for the study day, which was titled "Beyond 'conflict minerals': Artisanal mining as local livelihood?" can be found here (PDF, 466 Kb).

February 2015

From 26 January until 13 February, the Political Geography Unit co-organised a student excursion to Sri Lanka with their partners from the University of Colombo and Peradeniya which gave Swiss students the opportunity to experience Sri Lanka and some issues and challenges at first hand. Together with Sri Lankan students they also learned about and practised qualitative research in a different surrounding. More information about the excursion (incl pictures and reflections) will follow.

On 5 February, Timothy Raeymaekers presented his project 'working the Black Mediterranean' focusing on migrant labour in North and South Italy at the Department of Anthropology in Leuven. Link up with the project by clicking here.

The book by Timothy Raeymaekers and Benedikt Korf titled 'Violence on the Margins: States, Conflicts, and Borderlands' was reviewed among other books in an essay titled 'Mapping Border Studies' by James A. Sidaway from the Department of Geography of the National University of Singapore. Access the article through here.

January 2015

Michael Hermann was voted as the best political analyst in Switzerland in a recent ranking by newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag. Download the article here (PDF, 188 Kb) (in German).

Timothy Raeymaekers presented at the Antwerp performance of City Ghettos of Today where he addressed the issue of 'urban diversity'. For more information on the project, click here.

December 2014

The new book by Timothy Raeymaekers titled 'Violent Capitalism and Hybrid Identity in the Eastern Congo Power to the Margins' has been published by Cambridge University Press. Find the abstract and more information here.

November 2014

Pia Hollenbach has written a book review of a book called 'THE GOLDEN WAVE: Culture and Politics after Sri Lanka’s Tsunami Disaster' by Michele Ruth Gamburd which will be published in the Jorunal of Pacific Affairs. For more information, click here.

The new documentary 'Buffer Zone: Sri Lanka ten years after the tsunami' in which Pia Hollenbach participated was shown on Swiss television on November 27. It will also be shown in selected cinemas as well as on German television in December.

On 25 November, Sarah Byrne held a lecture titled 'Through the Looking Glass and Back Again: Adventures in Aidland and Academia' at the Université de Fribourg. Click here for more details.

October 2014

A new article by Sarah Byrne and Bart Klem about Constructing legitimacy in post-war transition: The return of ‘normal’ politics in Nepal and Sri Lanka? is out which will be published in an upcoming issue of Geoforum. Online access is already available.

On 14-15 October the unit discussed ongoing research on modern warfare with Derek Gregory from the University of British Columbia. For more information and reflections see here (PDF, 1.3 Mb) and here.

Stephan Hochleithner has contributed to a paper titled Constructing landscapes of value: Capitalist investment for theacquisition of marginal or unused land—The case of Tanzania which has just been published in Land Use Policy.

In this year's edition of L'Afrique des Grand Lacs: Annuaire 2013/2014, Christoph Vogel published an article titled Contested Statehood, Security Dilemmas and Militia Politics: The Rise and Transformation of Raïa Mutomboki in eastern DRC.

Sarah Byrne published her first PhD paper together with Gitta Shrestha in the latest issue of IDPR titled A compromising consensus? Legitimising local government in post-conflict Nepal.

September 2014

From 15 - 18 September, members of the political geography unit including Benedikt Korf, Timothy Raeymaekers and Tobias Hagmann co-organised a summer school in Ghent (Belgium) titled 'Governance at the edge of the state'. For more information about the event, head over to our events page or click here.

August 2014

The political geography unit is organising an excursion for students to Sri Lanka in early 2015. For more information click here.

An article by Pia Hollenbach titled "Seeing like a donator: guiding communities into better lives in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami" has been published in IDPR. You can access it through here.

July 2014

Bart Klem, Pia Hollenbach, Eva Ambos and Sarah Byrne were convening a panel entitled “Lost in transition? Negotiating power, legitimacy and authority in post-war Nepal and Sri Lanka” in the  European Conference of South Asia Studies (Zurich, July 23-26, 2014). The abstracts of the presentations can be found here.

Sarah Byrne, Jane Carter and colleagues have published a paper entitled “Learning about women’s empowerment, do the figures tell us enough?” in the journal Gender and Development. The paper can be accessed here. A review of the paper can be read here.

Benedikt Korf and Monika Hess wrote an article on the Tamil diaspora in Switzerland titled "Tamil diaspora and the political spaces of second-generation activism in Switzerland", which has been published in Global Networks. Access it through here.

June 2014

On 19 June, Thomas Blom Hansen was our special guest for a seminar (PDF, 168 Kb) titled "Sovereignty: revisiting classical ideas in a post-colonial context". We engaged with the concept of sovereignty on the basis of readings of Foucault, Agamben and Bataille.

On Wednesday 18 June, our unit hosted the seminar "Rights, reform and politics in Sri Lanka", with speakers from Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom and participants from across Europe.

Our unit screened the film (PDF, 1.8 Mb) "No More Tears Sister" on Monday 16 June at the Volkshaus. The film concerns engages with the question of violence in vicil war on the basis of the assassination of the Sri Lankan human rights activist by the LTTE. The screening was followed by an intense, but lively discussion with our two invited guests Nirmala Rajasingam (Rajini's sister) and Sharika Thiranagama (her daughter).

Christoph Vogel published an essay titled “Post-M23 Euphoria and the Recurrent Peace Dividends in Eastern DRC” in the digital forum of the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC).

May 2014

On May 8 and 9, Christoph Vogel co-organised a workshop on Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, hosted by the Conflict Research Group at Ghent University. The workshop brought together scholars from various countries and universities to discuss the ongoing research activities and current developments in Africa's Great Lakes region.

Timothy Raeymaekers edited a special issue of the ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies on the Mediterranean migration frontier for which he also wrote the introduction (PDF, 106 Kb).


Older announcements

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