Blogging political geography

Kamitug, DR Kongo by TR

There are so many aspects of a researcher's job that are not well reflected in most academic writing: exchange of ideas at conferences and workshops, methodological dilemmas, insights in the field, or resonance in the everyday, that are "too small" to "make it" as a full-size paper or chapter... This blog aims to make space for insights that happen within the scope of academic work, but do not always make it "out". It offers us, members of the Political Geography research group, the possibility to exercise the ability to be present differently in the field and other research settings. It allows us to cultivate an awareness to events and details that might fall through the cracks of more conventional academic writing.

With this blog, members of the Political Geography research group also explore other forms of writing than journal articles, book and theses chapters. We tackle issues that inspire us, namely around the themes of the politics of resource extraction, power and identity, violent terrirotialisation, and “north-south” power asymmetries.

  • Academic Practice in the Time of Corona

    COVID-19 has unsettled a lot of people in their personal and professional lives. There are anxieties and frustrations among young and aspiring academics whose projects have delayed or completely derailed and now face uncertain career futures. The blog post is a personal reflection that focuses on the changing (and unchanging) practices in academia to suggest that during the pandemic (where online exercises are expedient and ubiquitous), young scholars (and indeed others) are settling for watered-down academic experiences. The pandemic experiences, spoken of in global and universal terms, gloss over widening academic disparities that leave behind scholars with fewer privileges, especially from economically deprived regions of our planet.

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  • Patriotic Science – The Corona Virus Pandemic, Nationalism, and Indigeneity

    On March 26th the Chairman of the GMOA, Consultant Pediatric Neurosurgeon Anuruddha Padeniya, extolled the virtues of pirit, or ritual Buddhist chanting, on national TV.

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  • Menschen auf mittleren Wegen in Zeiten von Wandel und Abwegen

    Derek Gregory meinte einmal, Forschende sollten mehr nicht-akademische Literatur lesen. Manuka Wijesinghes neu auf Deutsch erschienener Roman ist dafür eine gute Gelegenheit: für Sri Lanka Forschende ebenso wie für alle am menschlichen Leben interessierte LeserInnen.

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  • Exploitation and illegality of migrant workers in the Italian agro-industry

    In 2015-16 I undertook a thesis and fieldwork on the plight of African migrant workers in the South of Italy. The thesis focuses on Italy’s tomato plantations, in the area of Foggia (Puglia) and the Vulture Alto Bradano (Basilicata). Each Summer, tomatoes which will end up on supermarket shelves around the world are being picked by these labourers in the South of Italy, at prices that beat all competition. These low prices have a high cost, however, which is increasingly carried by the land, the producers and precarious farm workers.

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  • Reflexive Research on the case of Communitarian Police Forces in Mexico: How a Contested Field of Research and Empowered Interviewees Changed my Focus

    For a few years, vigilantism is gaining more attention, both in Mexico and worldwide. Vigilante movements are usually regarded as non-state organizations engaged in security tasks in situations where state organizations are either too weak or unwilling to uphold the monopoly on violence. But the situation is often much more complex...

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  • Julian Kaiser reflects on his master research project in Ghana

    Julian Kaiser defended in February 2019 his master thesis entitled “Good herder, bad herder – understanding the construction of Fulani herders’ identities by the local community in Agogo, Ghana”. It is embedded in the problematic of often violent conflicts between farmers and herders that can occur in West Africa around the damage of agricultural fields by cattle herds. 

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  • On postcolonialism, singularity and territories of thought

    Dr. Tariq Jazeel, UCL, came to give a public lecture and a seminar on his new book "Postcolonialism" at our department on 26th February 2019. The seminar was very well received and we continued discussing about his work and how it is relevant to our own. Thamali Kithsiri, Benedikt Korf, Timothy Raeymaekers and Daniel Wolfe met to talk and think more about his inspiring work and ideas. From this initial impetus, a vivid discussion about the geographies of knowledge and the geographies of theory in a postcolonial world ensued.

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  • Decisions have consequences: Contrasting stories of shea butter & community conservation in Ghana

    At first glance, they seem identical - Two neighbouring communities, Murugu and Kaden, bordering Mole National Park in Ghana. Both are surrounded by savannah with scattered trees in farmed and fallow lands, where women collect shea nuts. 

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