November 30, 2006

Public geographies

Filed under: public geographies — ubikcan @ 5:54 pm

ubikcan notices an uptick in chatter about the role of geographers in the public sphere (and an annoying tendency to refer to ourselves in the third person, sorry about that!).

Here are some recent items that have come across the trammel.
Item: Dr. Duncan Fuller of Northumbria University announces he is collecting info on “public geographies” for the Progress in Human Geography journal:

in journals, books, web-sites, brainwaves, activism, emails, chapters, radio, presentations, blogs, events, demonstrations, letters, participations, diaries, posters, videos, podcasts, engagements, television programmes, communities, wikis, reports, newsletters…

Item: The University of Birmingham (UK) holds a symposium on public geography, citing Presidential addresses from both sociology and geography (and, we would add, recent moves by anthropology for more open access):

Derek Gregory and Michael Dear have embarked on a Very public geographies project, whose aim is to inject geographers’ views on important issues into public debate; Noel Castree (in press) has been admiring the recent ‘public intellectual’ writing of geographers David Harvey, Michael Watts and Neil Smith; Kevin Ward (in press) has been asking what geographers can learn from debates about public sociology; and Kathryne Mitchell organised a remarkably well-attended 8am panel on ‘Being and becoming a public scholar’ at the 2006 AAG conference.

Item: The long-standing (but now admittedly failed) People’s Geography project (ppt) at Syracuse University.

Item: Articles in the journals speculating on public geography such as

Castree, N. (2006) ‘Geography’s new public intellectuals’, Antipode, 38, 2: 396-412

Ward, K. (2006) Geography and public policy: towards public geographies. Progress in Human Geography, Volume 30, Number 4, August 2006, pp. 495-503(9)

This is not a new topic per se–people such as Edward Said and Michel Foucault (for example here or here) have written on the responsibilities of the intellectual in the last 20 years, and of course in GIS we have such developments as public participation GIS (or participatory GIS).

But it is appropriate to be talking about this general thing (as long as it doesn’t itself get too academic), because of the role of the netroots, blogs, political map mashups and so on that we’ve been covering here (remember this?) that offer the promise of something transformative. We’re definitely still seeing it play out.



  1. Guess this would be related:

    Comment by Alexandre Leroux — December 1, 2006 @ 12:27 pm

  2. Also see related resouces cited @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Geography

    Comment by geoWIZard — December 1, 2006 @ 5:58 pm

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