Colloquium: Ron Smith on Gaza and the Occupation of the West Bank

This Friday, February 18th, Ron Smith will present a talk entitled “Processing a Peace and Strangling a Nation: The Siege on Gaza and the Occupation of the West Bank. The talk will take place in Smith 304 at 3:30, with a reception to follow in Smith 409. An abstract of the talk can be found below.

The Egyptian revolution has brought renewed attention to the effects of local, regional, and US foreign policy in the middle east. While commentators still mobilize geopolitical visions of the middle east, featuring besieged democracies and islamist terrorists held in check only by tyrannical regimes, there is a new generation of geographers that are taking up the call to challenge this conventional view. Palestine in particular represents a failure of the geopolitical imagination, where a status quo that is untenable for the occupied population is maintained through appeals to multiple moribund peace processes to satisfy the international community. Mobilizing approaches of critical geopolitics, this paper examines the very local and personal impacts of Israeli occupation policy on the people of the Gaza Strip. Contributing to Sara Roy’s theoretical analysis of the processes of de-development, this presentation explores the political economy of the siege through interviews, sketch maps, and critical analysis. This paper is part of a larger project of qualitative research conducted over 5 years with over 1 year of total field work that investigates microgeographies of occupation. Processing a Peace presents analysis of the Gazan borders as a particular site of social control, a microgeography of incarceration in its own right, with dramatic effects that reverberate throughout Palestinian society, and the region as a whole.

RON SMITH is a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington in the Department of Geography. He has conducted qualitative research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for the past five years. Before pursing his doctorate in Geography, he worked as a documentary film maker and journalist throughout Latin America. His primary research interests revolve around contemporary political geographies of colonialism and diverse forms of local and transnational social organizing and resistance.

Michael Honey on Martin Luther King & Social Justice

This Friday, January 21st, Michael Honey will speak on “Revisiting King’s Vision of Labor Rights and Social Justice,” at 3:30pm in Smith 407.

Professor Honey, Haley Professor of Humanities at UW-Tacoma, will discuss how labor history is changing our understanding of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor Honey has just published a new edition of King’s speeches on labor and to labor unions, titled All Labor Has Dignity. In this collection, Dr. Honey draws attention to alliances that King worked to cultivate between the civil rights movement and labor unions., explaining that “people forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation.”

Honey’s book has attracted widespread critical praise, including this evaluation from eminent American History Professor Eric Foner of Columbia University

“Michael Honey, a distinguished scholar of labor and African-American History, has done a great service by gathering Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches on labor, may of them previously unknown.  He brings to life the King who from the outset of his public career insisted that ‘the evil of economic injustice’ must be combated along with racial inequality, and who saw the effort to eliminate poverty as a natural outgrowth of the civil rights struggle.  This is a more complex King than we celebrate every January, forever frozen on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial delivering his ‘I Have a Dream Speech.’  King’s dream called for nothing less than a radical restructuring of American economic life.”

Ananya Roy, The Democratization of Capital: Microfinance and Its Discontents

The Department of Geography, Simpson Center for the Humanities, and The Space of Democracy and Democracyof Space network welcome Ananya Roy, professor of City & Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkely for her talk, The Democratization of Capital: Microfinance and Its Discontents.

Microfinance, a poverty-alleviation tool popularized by the Grameen Bank, is today a global industry and a global “asset class.” Indeed, as high finance has come to be discredited as “bad money,” so microfinance is being promoted as a successful and ethical version of subprime finance, a “democratization of capital.” Drawing on research conducted in Washington D.C., Wall Street, Bangladesh, and the Middle East, this talk traces the circuits of truth and capital at work in such forms of “bottom billion capitalism.” It also presents the contradictions and contestations that haunt the democratization of capital, from counter-hegemonic articulations of development in the global South to the sheer limits of frontier strategies that attempt to manage risk amidst the dense relationalities of the bottom billion.

Where: Kane 120

When: Monday, October 11, 7:00 p.m.

Ananya Roy is the author of City Requiem, Calcutta: Gender and the Politics of Poverty (2003), co-editor of  Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives from the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America (2004), and co-editor of The Practice of International Health (2008). Her most recent book is titled Poverty Capital: Microfinance and the Making of Development (2010). Roy is now completing an edited book (with Aihwa Ong) titled Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global (2010).

Roy teaches in the fields of urban studies and international development, holds an affiliate faculty position in the Energy &Resource Group, and serves as Education Director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies and as Co-Director of the Global Metropolitan Studies Center. Roy is a member of SAVE the University, a fculty group dedicated to the struggle to maintain public education in California.

Colloquium speaker: Alec Murphy on “Territory’s Continuing Allure”

Join us in welcoming Alec Murphy to the Department of Geography 2010-2011 Colloquium Speaker Series for his talk titled, Territory’s Continuing Allure.

Even though the traditional role of the sovereign territorial state is being increasingly challenged by a variety of competing spaces and networks of political, economic, and social significance, the concept of territory that developed along with the modern state system has retained its status as a foundational concern of states and ethno-national groups.  Most obviously, territorial nationalism remains a force of great significance in local and global affairs.  At the same time, many substate and extra-state identity communities are seeking to carve out their place in a world of nation-states, not to change the nature of the system itself.  Joint sovereignty arrangements, for example, are more the exception than the rule.  This state of affairs shows that the “territorial trap” highlighted by John Agnew over a decade ago is not simply an issue for political theorists; it infuses the thinking of political actors as well.  As such, it represents a serious constraint on the system-changing potential of the functional shifts that are undermining some of the traditional territorial prerogatives of the modern state.

Where: Smith Hall 407

When: Friday, October 8, 3:30 – 5:00

Reception to follow in Smith Hall 409.

ALEXANDER B. MURPHY is Professor of Geography at the University of Oregon, where he also holds the James F. and Shirley K. Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences.  He specializes in political, cultural, and environmental geography, with regional emphases in Europe and the Middle East.  Murphy is Senior Vice President of the American Geographical Society and a Past President of the Association of American Geographers.  He co-edited Progress in Human Geography for eleven years, and currently serves as an editor of Eurasian Geography and Economics.  In the late 1990s Murphy led the effort to add geography to the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program.  He recently chaired the National Academy of Sciences — National Research Council Committee charged with identifying “Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences.”

Alexander Murphy is the author of more than eighty articles and several books, including The Regional Dynamics of Language Differentiation in Belgium (University of Chicago, 1988), Cultural Encounters with the Environment (edited with Douglas Johnson; Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), The European Culture Area, 5th ed. (with Terry Jordan-Bychkov and Bella Bychkova Jordan; Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), and Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture 9th ed. (with Erin Fouberg and Harm de Blij; Wiley, 2009), and .  He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Fulbright-Hays Research Grant in 1985, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1991, a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award in the mid-1990s, a National Council for Geographic Education Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001, Gilbert Grosvenor Honors for Geographic Education from the Association of American Geographers in 2008, and a Queen Mary (University of London) Distinguished Visiting Fellowship in 2009.  Professor Murphy holds a bachelors degree in archaeology from Yale University, a law degree from the Columbia University School of Law, and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Chicago.