Borders, Politics and Geography: Political Geography at IAG-NZGS Combined Conference 6-9 July 2021

There has been substantial interest in the intersection between politics and space in Australian academia. Work engaging with spatial politics spans a range of disciplines including Geography, International Relations, Political Science, Anthropology and Law.  The sub-discipline of Political Geography, most heavily invested in the study of politics and space, however, is largely absent from Australian academia. Symptomatic of this, the Institute of Australian Geographers does not currently have a specialised study group for the sub-discipline. Critical Border Studies (CBS) is of course one area where scholars from diverse disciplines interested in politics and space have found points of encounter and built collaborative research agendas. As such, Australian CBS has much to gain from specialised research in Political Geography. For this reason, members of the Australian Critical Border Studies network have been collaborating with others to put together a series of Political Geography-focused sessions for the upcoming Institute of Australian Geographers and New Zealand Geographical Society Combined Conference. The conference will be held online and at the University of Sydney 6-9 July 2021. More details can be found here.

There will be four Political Geography sessions in total, including a panel on Political Geography and a meeting to discuss the possibility of creating a specialised study group. There are two sessions with open call for papers listed below. Please contact the session organisers if you are interested in participating. Abstracts are due by the 5th of April.

Session 1: Border Studies in Australian and New Zealand Geography

Andrew Burridge (Macquarie University), Umut Ozguc (Deakin University) and Ari Jerrems (Monash University)

In 1961, 60 years prior to this year’s IAG conference, the late Victor Prescott arrived in Australia, and took up a position at the University of Melbourne in Geography, perhaps the most influential figure in international border studies in Australia, publishing works including The Geography of Frontiers and Boundaries in 1965. Much has changed since this time, notably through the development of critical border studies, significantly expanding the scope and diversity of the ways in which we conceptualise borders. Despite growing prominence of border studies within geography, it remains a marginalised area of research in Australia and New Zealand. While across the globe there are numerous border studies groups, conferences, and associations, in Australia and NZ there are still fewer connections that bring border scholars together. In response to the theme of this year’s conference, ‘remembering, reimagining geography’, we are seeking submissions for a paper session that critically examines both the past and future of border studies in Australian and NZ geography. This includes border studies scholars working from Australia/NZ, and/or on Australian/NZ borders. Topics might include: – The history and/or future of border studies in Australia/NZ – Researching and/or teaching border studies in/from Australian/NZ institutions – Colonial and frontier borders – Indigenous borders/border studies – Onshore and offshore detention – Pandemic and quarantine borders.

Contact: Andrew Burridge, 

Session 16: Remembering, Reimaging Political Space

Ari Jerrems (Monash University) and Adam David Morton (University of Sydney)

Political space, understood as the frameworks, infrastructures and geographies through which politics is exercised, has long been the site of intense contestation. In recent times, dominant constellations have been challenged by an array of social movements with diverse objectives, from contesting extractivism to forging spaces of autonomy and defending Indigenous sovereignties. At the same time, there have been numerous violent reassertions of state power often upholding colonial hierarchies and the interests of capital. To make sense of the current political landscape this session builds on the conference theme, bringing together papers seeking to remember and reimagine political space. On the one hand, papers will analyse the constitution of dominant notions of territory and sovereignty, from the violent bordering practices through which they are defended to the colonial imaginaries and violent histories underpinning them. On the other hand, papers will attempt to think political space otherwise, building on the imaginaries and practices of diverse thinkers, movements and anti-colonial struggles.

Contact: Ari Jerrems,

Set Image: Dale Harding, SPINE 3 (RADIANCE), 2018

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