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

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

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).

April 2014

Bart Klem held two lectures at the Islamic Institute for Higher Learning (IAIN) Walisongo in Semarang, Indonesia, on 30 April. At the theology (Ushuluddin) faculty, he talked about “The Role of Islamic Higher Education in Peace Building: Issues on developing the department of Religion and Peace in Ushuluddin Faculty” At the Post-Graduate programme he talked about "Islam and Multiculturalism in Europe"

For his upcoming monograph about the social transformations in the DRC through a century of violent conflicts, Timothy Raeymaekers held a lecture at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Copenhagen. For more information, download the flyer here (PDF, 342 Kb).

Bart Klem contributed to the book launch of the edited volume “Evaluation methodologies for aid in conflict” which took place at Swisspeace (Berne).

Timothy Raeymaekers has been appointed scientific advisor of City Ghettos of Today, a multidisciplinary project that explores cultural diversity and ghettoization in seven European cities. For more information, click here.

March 2014

Tobias Hagman (University of Roskilde) joined the polit seminar with a presentation titled “Hybrid governance, the pure politics of Africa go crazy”.

February 2014

Bart Klem delivered a lecture at the Institute of Anthropology at the University of Berne titled: “The politics of order and disturbance: Public authority and violent contestation in Sri Lanka”.

In a special session of the polit seminar, Benedikt Korf and Rajesh Venugopal (LSE) presented on their research on Sri Lanka under the respective titles: "Order in (and out) of disorder: Violence, sovereignty and the production of life in Sri Lanka", and "Cosmopolitan capitalism and sectarian socialism: Conflict, development and the liberal peace in Sri Lanka".

Christoph Vogel recently published two new articles about his work in DR Congo: one in the Journal of Humanitarian Assistance and the other (PDF, 338 Kb) in Africa Policy Brief.

January 2014

Al Jazeera published an article by Christoph Vogel, titled "DR Congo risks violence despite rebel defeat".

Timothy Raeymaekers wrote about his current work in DR Congo, where he researches the plight of internally displaced people.

Bart Klem's article "The political geography of war's end: Territorialisation, circulation, and moral anxiety in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka" was published in Political Geography

December 2013

Under the title "Beyond Obama's Law" the Political Geography unit organised a roundtable on so-called conflict minerals in eastern Congo. Download the program here (PDF, 248 Kb). For more information contact Timothy Raeymaekers.

Bart Klem wrote a review (PDF, 63 Kb)of the book "Everyday Ethnicity in Sri Lanka: Up-Country Tamil Identity Politics" which was published in Pacific Affairs.

November 2013

The "Friday's Food for Thought's" final event with ten short talks on multiple aspects of geography took place in the Impact Hub Zurich. Download the flyer here (PDF, 5.1 Mb). For more information contact Bart Klem.


Older announcements

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