Despite the AAG website meltdown, Gastón Gordillo and I have organised two sessions on Terrain for the Chicago Association of American Geographers meeting in April 2015.
These sessions seeks to think critically, theoretically, and politically about the question of terrain. This concept is often thought to be the preserve of physical and military geographers, who usually write about terrain in a straightforward and unproblematic way to describe the forms and textures that define particular spaces. Precisely because the three-dimensional materiality of terrain profoundly affects and constrains mobility, visibility, and action, we think that this concept demands more careful consideration. The contributions in this panel will address several linked questions: How does the materiality of terrain have implications for how we think geographically and politically, and indeed geo-politically? How does terrain help us to conceptualise space as the medium of politics and violence, rather than simply its container? How does thinking terrain as a three-dimensional volume challenge conventional ways of thinking about space? Can we think about terrain as a means of access to wider political-strategic concerns? How should we think about terrain in relation to liquid spaces such as rivers and the ocean or the shifting weather patterns of the atmosphere?
The first session has papers from me, Nisha Shah, Teo Ballvé and Jia Jun Lee, with Derek Gregory as discussant and Deborah Cowen as chair. The second session has Gastón, Pip Thornton, Clayton Whitt and Rachael Squire, with Setha Low as discussant. This is a good mix of topics, types of terrain, and geographical sites. We’re looking forward to the sessions.