Painting of wheat field by Van Gogh

Geography in its broadest sense is concerned with understanding the world and our place within it. But this “world” is not simply given; it is fashioned. This course is fundamentally concerned with understanding the process of ‘world-formation’ via a meditation on several abstract and yet essential concepts: Power, Place/Space and Culture/Subjectivity. We spend the bulk of the semester developing the conceptual skills to think through these key terms. We then deploy these new ways of (postmodern) critical thinking towards a concerted meditation on the very concrete problems of violence, war, militarism and exceptionalism. In particular we will explore the concept of biopolitics (biopower) which is concerned principally with the government of life: the relationship between life and power in the modern world. A key emphasis of this seminar in critical geography will also be on the question of what it means to think critically. The primary conceptual grammars with which we shall pry open the crisis of the modern human condition, and through which we shall attempt to disclose something of our future possibilities, are linked to a rethinking of the concept of power. What is power and what dominant forms has power taken in the modern world? Critical geographic thinking is concerned not only with how we inhabit place, but also with investigating, and bringing to light, the very presuppositions that silently undergird our ways of knowing and acting in the world.