One of the things I’ve been working on since I got back is the schedule of talks for early 2012. I’d already agreed to give a couple of talks on ‘volume’ (part of The Space of the World project) in March in Kentucky and May in Nottingham; and had agreed a couple of dates earlier in the year (at King’s College London and Cambridge) and a talk at Università Roma Tre in early March. There were a couple of other provisional things in the diary – Istanbul to teach a mini-course in early February; and the Association of American Geographers in late February. I’ve also just been invited to give a talk in Moscow in late January.
I’ve been trying to work out what I can feasibly do for each of these, scheduling travel around Durham commitments in a way I’ve not had to do for some time; balancing a wish to give new talks as much as possible with a sense of what’s possible in terms of writing new material; and trying to link talks with things I have to (or want to) write for other purposes.
Unfortunately this meant I had to decline the invitations to Moscow and Istanbul – both places I’ve never been but wanted to go for years. But realistically I neither have the time to make those trips worthwhile – to actually see something of the place rather than just the airport/hotel/conference venue/restaurant – nor the time to write the papers.
I debated long and hard about the AAG. A plan to organise a major lecture there didn’t work out, and I’d declined several panel invitations because of the sense that would be my main commitment. I did provisionally agree to be part of the translator-meets-critics session on Pierre Macherey’s Hegel or Spinoza, but felt that was not enough to justify the trip alone. So I considered not going; then decided that the best way forward – and which would allow me to be part of the Macherey session – was to organise a session on ‘German Philosophy and Geography’ in which I could give a paper on Leibniz as a geographer alongside some other papers on Heidegger, Hegel and Kant. I wanted a chance to talk about Leibniz to a geographical audience, and this seems like the best way to do that. I’m not sure it would work well as part of a visiting speaker seminar series.
Most of the invitations I get at the moment seem to want me to talk on territory. I’m about done with that topic, so the plan is to give a talk entitled ‘Outside Territory’ at King’s – a version of the paper for the Exterritory project in late December – and to use this as the basis for the Rome lecture too. The Cambridge talk will either be around this or on something else I’ve done on territory. In a way a paper with the title of ‘Outside Territory’ is an appropriate coda to the work I’ve been doing on this topic. As I said in the Berkeley and Tucson lectures:
Territory, for me, is not a universal. Indeed, contrary to how my interest in territory might appear, I do not think territory is that central or even general a category of geography; I have no wish to see all problems through a territorial lens; and while it is certainly of fundamental importance in the modern period, I do not think territory historically is the key concept of political theory and its relation to place.