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Geographic Thought A praxis perspective

Geographic Thought

A praxis perspective

Edited by

George Henderson


Marvin Waterstone

First published 2009

by Routledge



  Without social movements and wider struggles for progressive social change, the field of Geography would lack much of its contemporary relevance and vibrancy. Moreover, these struggles and the geographical scholarship that engages with them have changed the philosophical underpinnings of the discipline and have inflected the quest for geographical knowledge with a sense not only of urgency but also hope. This reader, intended for advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate courses in Geographic Thought, is at once an analysis of Geography’s theoretical and practical concerns and an encounter with grounded political struggles. 

  This reader offers a fresh approach to learning about Geographic Thought by showing, through concrete examples and detailed editorial essays, how the discipline has been forever altered by the rise of progressive social struggles. Structured to aid student understanding, the anthology presents substantive main and part introductory essays and features more than two dozen unabridged published works by leading scholars that emphatically articulate geographic thought to progressive social change. Each section is introduced with an explanation of how the following pieces fit into the broader context of geographic work amidst the socially progressive struggles that have altered social relations in various parts of the world over the last half-century or so. Doubly, it places this work in the context of the larger goals of social struggles to frame or reframe rights, justice, and ethics. Geographic Thought provides readers with insights into the encounters between scholarship and practice and aims to prompt debates over how social and geographical knowledges arise from the context of social struggles and how these knowledges might be redirected at those contexts in constructive, evaluative ways.

   The reader is unique not only in knowing Geographic Thought through its progressive political attachments, instead of through a series of abstract “isms,” but in gathering together salient works by geographers as well as scholars in cognate fields, such as Nancy Fraser, Chantal Mouffe, Iris Marion Young, and Jack Kloppenburg, whose own engagements have proved lasting and influential. For researchers and students interested in the connections between theoretically informed work and the possibilities for bettering people’s everyday lives, this book provides an innovative and compelling argument for why Geographic Thought is valuable and necessary. 

George Henderson is a human geographer who teaches and writes about the political economy of American capitalism. He is the author of the book California and the Fictions of Capital (Temple University Press paperback, 2003) and is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota. 

Marv Waterstone is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Arizona. He was also the Director of the University of Arizona’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies. His current teaching includes History of Geographic Thought, Risk and Society, Radical Geography, Geography and Social Justice, Environmental and Resource Geography, and Governing Science and Technology.


Acknowledgements xi

Preface xiii


Introduction: why is geographic thought always political? 3

1 Revolutionary and counter-revolutionary theory in geography and the problem of ghetto formation 13

David Harvey

2 Geographic models of imperialism 23

James M. Blaut

3 On not excluding half of the human in human geography 35

Janice Monk and Susan Hanson


Introduction: moral knowledge/geographical knowledge – what does it mean to claim moral ground, or how is oppression to be recognized? 49

Part 1: Characterizing oppressions and recognizing injustice 51

Introduction 51

4 Five faces of oppression 55

Iris Marion Young

5 Social justice in the age of identity politics: redistribution, recognition, and participation 72

Nancy Fraser

Part 2: Making justice spatial 91

Introduction 91

6 Moral progress in human geography: transcending the place of good fortune 95

David M. Smith

7 Dissecting the autonomous self: hybrid cartographies for a relational ethics 109

Sarah Whatmore

Part 3: Practicing politicized geographic thought 123

Introduction 123

8 Maps, knowledge, and power 129

J. Brian Harley

9 Collaboration across borders: moving beyond positionality 149

Richa Nagar, with Farah Ali et al.

10 Research, pedagogy, and instrumental geography 162

Rich Heyman

11 Situated knowledge through exploration: reflections on Bunge’s ‘Geographical Expeditions’ 173

Andy Merrifield



Introduction: the embeddedness of intentions, tactics, and strategies in rights-, justice-, and ethics-based worldviews 189

Part 1: Rights-based goals 193

Introduction 193

12 Mobility, empowerment and the rights revolution 201

Nicholas K. Blomley

13 Human rights and development in Africa: moral intrusion or empowering opportunity? 215

Giles Mohan and Jeremy Holland

14 New world warriors: ‘nation’ and ‘state’ in the politics of Zapatista and US Patriot Movements 231

Carolyn Gallaher and Oliver Froehling

15 Social theory and the de/reconstruction of agricultural science: local knowledge for an alternative agriculture 248

Jack Kloppenburg, Jr.

Part 2: Justice-based goals 267

Introduction 267

16 Restructuring and the contraction and expansion of environmental rights in the United States 274

Laura Pulido


17 Environmental justice and American Indian tribal sovereignty: case study of a land-use conflict in Skull Valley, Utah 293

Noriko Ishiyama

18 Structural power, agency, and national liberation: the case of East Timor 307

James F. Glassman

Part 3: Ethics-based goals 325

Introduction 325

19 Post-Marxism: democracy and identity 332

Chantal Mouffe

20 U.S. third world feminism: the theory and method of oppositional consciousness in the postmodern world 338

Chela Sandoval

21 An ethics of the local 355

J. K. Gibson-Graham

Bibliography 371

Index 375

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