Planetary Illiberal Geographies: Territories, Space and Power I

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Political Geography Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group, Development Geographies Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Studio 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Jason Luger, Sarah Tynen
Chairs: Jason Luger


Welcome to the illiberal age.

Writing about liberal democratic contexts, Lefebvre (2009 [1978]) argues that state territorial control facilitates capital accumulation. But what happens in the relationship between the state, territory, and capital in illiberal political contexts? While some scholarship in geography has addressed the relationship between sovereignty and territory (Yeh 2013), such as in the context of violence (Elden 2009) and state power (Jessop 2007), more scholarship is needed to address the implications of authoritarian governance on multiple scales in relationship to territory and economic development. Furthermore, political geographers like Koch (2013, 2016) have stressed the importance of moving beyond 'territorial traps' and 'moral geographies' to better understand the relational nature of illiberalism and the circular, rather than hierarchal, flows of power (Foucault 2007) in and across various scales.

Meanwhile, theorists such as Brenner and Schmid (2015) propose that urban processes are planetary in nature, multi-scalar, hybrid and relational in nature. Given the surge in illiberalism around the world, it is crucial to explore both fixed territories and the ways in which these territories combine via global circuits and flows. Furthermore, illiberalism is not limited to particular places, global regions, or physical territory at all. Various forms of illiberalism, from authoritarian state-society relations to religious fundamentalism, show up in 'East and West', 'North and South', in cyberspace and in urban neighborhoods.

Thus, this paper session seeks to further explore diverse terrains of 'illiberal' geographies, specifically how illiberal regimes articulate territory and space at scales both global and local, through lenses such as city planning, policy, surveillance, or economic development. This paper session seeks a full range of theoretical and methodological approaches to examine territory, space and power in the new global illiberal paradigm, from China and East Asia through the Middle East to Africa and Trump's America (and all the interstices in between). We welcome theoretical and empirical debates, as well as papers dealing with the methodological challenges in approaching illiberal geographies.

Papers may focus on, but are not limited to:

-Urban development, planning and design as a mechanism of multi-scalar development and control

-Methodological and ethical challenges for researchers operating in / approaching illiberal contexts

-Illiberal encounters in urban space and cyberspace

-Urban planning and environment design as a mode of territorial control

-Borders, mobility, and state territorial control through border policing

-Settler colonialism and militarization of disputed territory

-Geographies of law and law enforcement

-Everyday dimensions of territorial policing, securitization, surveillance, and violence

-Resistance to state territorial control

-Policing of the body and resistance to it

-Neighborhood governance and state surveillance tactics


Brenner, N. and Schmid, C., 2015. Towards a new epistemology of the urban?. City, 19(2-3),


Elden, Stuart. 2009. Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty. Minneapolis:

University of Minnesota Press

Foucault, Michel. 2007. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France

1977--1978. New York: Picador.

Jessop, B. 2007. State Power. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Koch, N. (2013) Introduction: field methods in 'closed contexts': Undertaking research in

authoritarian states and places. Area, 45(4), 390-395.

Koch, N. (2016) We entrepreneurial academics: governing globalized higher education in

'illiberal' states, Territory, Politics, Governance, 4(4), 433-452.

Lefebvre, Henri. 2009 [1978]. Space and the State. In State, Space, World: Selected Essays, N.

Brenner and S. Elden, eds., 95-123. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Yeh, Emily. 2013. Taming Tibet: Landscape Transformation and the Gift of Chinese

Development. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Jonathan McCombs*, University of Georgia, Questioning the Illiberal Turn: Race in the Gentrification of Budapest’s Eighth District 20 2:00 PM
Presenter Ashima Sood*, Indian School of Business, Loraine Kennedy, Senior Research Fellow, CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), Leveraging illiberal policy instruments in the name of globalized urban development in Hyderabad, Telangana (India) 20 2:20 PM
Presenter Sarah Tynen*, University of Colorado, State Territorialization through Bureaucratic Control: Authoritarian Governance at the Neighborhood Level (“shequ”) in China 20 2:40 PM
Presenter So Hyung Lim*, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Authoritarian Biopower governing pandemics in the East Asian State: The cases of SARS and MERS in South Korea 20 3:00 PM
Discussant Natalie Koch Syracuse University 20 3:20 PM

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