International Lecture Series in Cultural Geography

In our working group on cultural geography, we explore the relationship between space, politics, culture and society. As part of the Research group, we have conceived an international lecture series, which we hope will deepen our exchange on these topics and expand our conceptual repertoire. We would like to give our Lecture Series a format that - beyond an exciting series of lectures - creates a forum for students, academics and teachers to engage in exchange and networking. We see it as a dialogical format that connects the Institute of Geography at the University of Bonn not only with other disciplines, but also with local partners in practice.

In essence, we are interested in linking human security and its spatial references, with a focus on questions of identities, belonging and participation.

Lectures take place once or twice per semester and are announced well in advance.

Here is an overview of our previous lectures:

Prof. Carolin Schurr (University of Bern): Reproductive geopolitics between childbearing and population policy

Just a few weeks after Swiss women organized the country's largest women's strike in June 2019, an asylum seeker lost her baby because she could not access prenatal care. In Mexico, women demonstrated for their constitutional right to abortion, while indigenous and rural women continue to be forced to take contraceptives to avoid losing social benefits. All of these recent events are examples of what we call "reproductive geopolitics."

By linking reproductive life to geopolitics, we assume that reproductive technologies are envolved in geopolitics, as individuals, states, international organizations, transnational corporations, religious and nongovernmental organizations define whose reproduction is considered desirable and whose bodies are considered worthless. Access to reproductive technologies says much about whose life is given what value in a given territory (Butler 2004; Fassin 2007, 2009). While some proclaim the "end of state biopolitics" (Rose 2001) and consider the "history of population control" (Connelly 2009) a thing of the past, this presentation uses Mexico as an example to illustrate the ruptures, continuities, and entanglements between traditional state biopolitics and new forms of reproductive geopolitics. While in Mexico in the past the territorial management of population was explicitly called population policy, in the present the governance of reproduction takes place more implicitly through regimes of health care, migration, and sexual politics. The policies of these regimes continue to manage population in territorial ways, but do not officially pursue population control. The concept of reproductive geopolitics aims to make these unperceived population policies explicit.

Lecture Series 06/07/2022

Lecture Series 4_Mirko Winkel, mLAB Uni Bern.jpg
© Mirko Winkel/mLAB Uni Bern

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© CNNtraveler

Prof. Jack Gieseking (Univ. of Kentucky): Scale Jumping from the Myth of Neighborhood Liberation: When Cis-Metronormativity Meets Homonationalism

Lgbtq activists, the mainstream media, and my lesbian-queer research participants in New York City alike often present a limited, territorial geographical imagination of "lgbtq spaces."

While my lesbian-queer participants were quick to describe their central lgbtq spaces as gayborhoods, they then described how these neighborhoods failed to meet their needs while blaming themselves for these areas' demise. Unmentioned was the fact that lesbians and queers fail to attain or retain these spaces over generations-often due to lesser political and economic power. In earlier work, I argued that the "myth of neighborhood liberation" leads to generational cycles of lesbians and queers as gentrifiers and gentrified, wherein they are taken in by and reproduce mainstream homonormative narratives of (white and well-off) their lives made "better" and "legitimate" through property ownership.

But what happens when we shift scales to place the myth of queer urban salvation at the scale of the gayborhood to contrast the rural, supposedly anti-lgbtq landscape with that of the cosmopolitan and ultra "civilized" city? In this talk, I work across scales to examine the relationship between the myth of urban neighborhood liberation and the myth of the ever-unwelcoming, "backward" rural US South. Drawing on a 15-year media analysis, multi-generational interviews with lesbians and queers, and organizational records and periodicals from various LGBTQ archives, I situate the work on lesbian-queer place-making in conversation with the scholarship around homonationalism, I present the idea of cis-metronormativity. Cis-metronormativity expands on Halberstam's (2005) notion of metronormativity and Puar's (2007) concept of homonationalism to articulate the ways mainstream media, politicians, and corporations portray white, middle-class lesbians, bisexuals, queers, and trans people as cosmopolitan citizens in these spaces. Cis-metronormativity requires a regional and multiscalar study across the US to articulare the political and economic practices that assert urban cosmopolitanism and civilization, which therefore reify the racist, settler, and capitalist city.

Lecture Series 27/04/2022

Prof. Alex Jeffrey (Univ. of Cambridge): Judicial proximity: the spaces and places of war crimes trials

Where should war crimes trials take place? Should they be located as close as possible to the sites of the crimes? Does proximity equate with participation and legitimacy? Or does distance allow for objectivity and separation from the social and political contestations that shaped the violence?

Confronting these questions this talk explores how issues of space and place shape judicial outcomes and wider perceptions of justice after violent conflict Drawing in particular on research in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and emerging engagement with the case of the expulsion of the Rohingya from Myanmar, the talk will examine how a study of the legal geographies of purportedly universal jurisdiction crimes reveals the significance of geopolitics and place in the operation of international law.

Lecture Series 02/02/2022 

Lecture Series 2_2021_Alex Jeffrey Uni Cambridge.jpg
© Alex Jeffrey/University of Cambridge

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Annika Mattissek/Universität Freiburg

Prof. Annika Mattissek (University of Freiburg): Identities, constructions of space, and emotions in debates about transformations in agriculture.

Irritating topics related to agriculture are currently leading to heated debates in society: While demonstrations with the slogan "Wir haben es satt" ("We're fed up") call for a fundamental system change and a questioning of capitalist production logics, farmers march into cities in large tractor associations under the slogan "Land schafft Verbindung" ("Land creates connection") to demonstrate for more recognition and fewer legal requirements.

The conflicts and debates that come to light here show that agriculture is inextricably linked to some of the greatest current challenges in the context of global change, such as climate change, food security and nature conservation. At the same time, agricultural practices are at odds with different, often conflicting, policy objectives, structures, and social negotiation processes at different scales.

While the public debate on agriculture is characterized by a multitude of very different perspectives, a central point of criticism from farmers in the above-mentioned negotiation processes is that their own views, including their perception of the diverse structural framework conditions and pressure factors, are not heard very much. They also complain that the reputation of agriculture in society has suffered unjustly. Against this background, the lecture approaches argumentations, identity productions and perceptions of agricultural structures and transformations from the perspective of farmers. For this purpose, documents and relevant publications such as "agrar heute" will be consulted and supplemented by qualitative interviews.

Lecture Series 15/12/2021 

Contact Information

Avatar Estrada Bolivar

Mauricio Estrada Bolivar

+49 228 73-3851

Avatar Schliehe

Anna Schliehe

+49 228 73-60638

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