'You Misspelled Geography': Departmental Discontinuance and the De-Mattering of Geographical Knowledge

Authors: Eric Robsky Huntley*, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Topics: History of Geography, Geography Education, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: history of geography, discontinuance, MIT, science and technology studies, University of Michigan
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Council Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In June 2018, the MIT Department of Urban Studies announced the launch of a new undergraduate program in 'urban science'; the response was swift and dismissive, particularly among academic geographers who felt that MIT had 'misspelled geography'. I will take this slightly trivial episode as an entry point into the 'de-mattering' of geographical knowledge and academic training in the American university over the course of the 20th century. Drawing on archival research into the discontinuance of the University of Michigan's Department of Geography in 1981-82, I will explore the making of geography's disciplinary precarity, concluding with notes towards a manifesto on how geography might slow or reverse its marginalization through renewed pedagogical, technical, and scholarly attention to -graphic modes of knowledge production, in the Greek sense: scholarship and pedagogy inclusive of both writing and drawing.

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