Call for Papers AAG 2014 – (Re)imagining Territory as Political Ecological Process

Re-posted from crit-geog-forum.

Call for Papers AAG 2014: (Re)imagining Territory as Political Ecological Process

Territory is the basis for the political-juridical organization of the international state system.  It is one of the fundamental concepts upon which state sovereignty operates and is closely related to the control and management of natural resources, populations, and economic activities.  Yet, territory is also understood as the bundle of meanings, relationships, and histories of social groups to land and place (Rocheleau 2011).  Nevertheless, territory is dynamic and processes of re- and de- territorialization are constantly influencing the dynamics of natural resource management, social action, and economies.  Territory is fundamentally enmeshed in social, political, economic, and environmental relations between diverse human and non-human actors, epistemologies, and space(s).  

As a concept and analytic, debates around the formation, salience, and effects of “territory” are again emerging within geography (cf. Agnew 2013, Bryan 2012, Elden 2013, and Murphy 2013).  Much of the debate, however, is taking place in the realm of political geography and is closely tied to the state as the central scalar unit of analysis.  This panel seeks to explore concepts of territory beyond the bounds of the state through critical political ecology.  Political ecology has focused largely on power relations that cross scales, from the international and state level to, local social groups at risk of exclusion, eviction, and conflict, in addition to popular resistance in the form of social movements (cf. Forsyth 2003, Peet, Robbins, and Watts 2010).  While “the state” remains an essential component of the political ecology framework, a broader analysis of ecological processes and local communities distributes the focus beyond the bounds of the state, positioning it as one of many actors involved in social and ecological change.  Paradoxically, political ecologists have largely overlooked “territory.” 

Following Rocheleau (2011), this panel suggests that territory as a concept and analytic is underdeveloped within the field of political ecology.  Rather than directly engaging the concept of territory, many works in political ecology employ it as a given category or backdrop and write about the territory(ies) of resource conflicts, social movements, power struggles, and political economy.  What happens when we bring political ecology to bear on territory?  How can we understand and think with territory (as opposed to thinking about territory) as a central component of analyses in political ecology?  What does political ecology have to offer to the analysis and critique of territory, or vice versa?  How can a political ecological approach to territory change our understanding of territory as a process?  What does territory “do” in regards to political ecology?  This panel will explore these questions to critically assess how territory and political ecology “work” together.  We seek papers that engage, but are not limited to, these questions and the possible topics below through empirical case studies or from more theoretical approaches.  Ultimately we seek to start a conversation about (re)imagining territory as political ecological process.  Possible paper topics include:

Ecologies of territorial expansion and/or compression

Militarism, territory, and ecological processes

Epistemological and ontological ‘states’ of territory

Protest, trouble-making, and culture-jamming in reclaiming urban territory and ecology

Indigenous rights and territory

Processes of claiming territory via: conservation; social movements; legal, illegal, and/or extra-legal actions; extending the state and institutions into “marginal” or peripheral spaces

Tools of (re)territorialization (mapping, participatory methodologies, etc.)

Session organizers: Joel Correia and Eric Lovell, University of Colorado at Boulder Geography Department
Panel discussants: to be confirmed.

If you are interested in participating, please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to Joel Correia ( or Eric Lovell ( by 12 November 2013.  The discounted registration for the conference ends on 23 October 2013, although conference registration is open until 3 December 2013.  For more information please see

Agnew, J. A. 2013. Territory, politics, governance. Territory, Politics, Governance, 1, no. 1: 1-4.

Bryan, J. 2012. Rethinking territory: Social justice and neoliberalism in Latin America’s territorial turn. Geography Compass, 6, no. 4: 215-226.

Elden, S. 2013.  The birth of territory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Forsyth, T. 2003. Critical political ecology: The politics of environmental science. London: Routledge.

Murphy, A. B. 2013. Territory’s continuing allure. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 103, no. 5:1212-1226.

Peet, R. and Watts, M. 2004. Liberation ecologies: Environment, development, social movements. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.

Rocheleau, D. 2011. Rooted networks, webs of relation, and the power of situated science: Bringing the models back down to earth in Zmbrana. In Knowing nature: Conversations at the intersection of political ecology and science studies. ed. Mara J. Goldman, Paul Nadasdy, and Matthew D. Turner. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

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