Geographies of Responsibility II

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Development Geographies Specialty Group, Political Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Chairman's Boardroom, Omni, East
Organizers: Brian King, Vincent Del Casino
Chairs: Vincent Del Casino


Responsibility is central to the human experience but remains a topic of limited scholarly attention within geography. Responsibility factors into a sense of self through the formation of identity (Massey 2004), and is distinct in terms of how we meet our individual needs materially, emotionally, and as embodied experience. In considering the relationships between space and responsibility, Massey references feminist philosophers Gatens and Lloyd, noting that "first, this is a responsibility which is relational: it depends on a notion of the entity (individual, political group, place) being constructed in relation to others. Second, this is a responsibility which is embodied in the way place is said to be embodied. And third, this is a responsibility which implies extension: it is not restricted to the immediate or the very local" (Gatens and Lloyd 1999 in Massey 2004: 9). Other scholars have asserted that non-representational theory is productive in considering responsibility to the common (Popke 2009); it is applied differently but no less importantly by Derrida and Dufourmantelle in their poststructuralist theorizations of hospitality (2000, also see Popke 2003 for a discussion of poststructural ethics and responsibility). The concept of responsibility has also been advanced by justice theory (Young 2007) to emphasize "issues of power, privilege, interest and capacity for action, as well as spatial relation" (Barnett 2010: 252).

Yet, responsibility is marshalled as a form of social organization to encourage action to others, not just to our communities but to non-human communities upon which we interact. Being "responsible" involves both internal and external constraints that can be internally and externally imposed. In a notable contribution, Lawson (2007: 6) advanced a care ethics approach to "take seriously the ways in which our work is 'for others' and to build connection and responsibility as key values in our research approaches." As a form of accepted ethical practice, responsibility also has the potential to serve as a distinct form of subjectivity that extends beyond self-discipline to include affective registers and ethics of care. Furthermore, discourses of responsibility are marshalled to encourage political action in the age of the Anthropocene, since broader concerns for the impacts of climate change and other ecological crises are framed in terms of responsibility to the global community. That said, responsibility can also produce new forms of governmentality through new regimes of self-care design to further perpetuate power and authority (Foucault 1988).
This session will engage with the concept of responsibility from a number of potential registers. We solicit papers that examine responsibility across a diverse range of empirical case studies. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

Theorizations of responsibility
Subjective and everyday experiences of responsibility
Responsibility and its relationships to ethics of care
Responsibility as a force of subjection and domination
Relationships between responsibility and ethics and justice theories
Theoretical and methodological approaches to studying responsibility
Perceptions of responsibility and responsibility as a form of social organization
Responsibility as a force shaping places and landscapes, social relations, human health, and/or human-environment interactions
Human-environment relations through networks of responsibility
Political ecology and responsibility
Responsibility in the Anthropocene
Post-human, more-than-human, and responsibility

Works Cited
Barnett, C. 2010. Geography and ethics: justice unbound. Progress in Human Geography 35(2): 246-255.
Derrida, J. and A. Dufourmantelle (2000) Of Hospitality. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
Gatens, M. and Lloyd, G. 1999. Collective Imaginings: Spinoza, Past and Present. London: Routledge.
Foucault, M. 1988. The History of Sexuality, Vol. 3: The Care of the Self. New York: Vintage Books.
Lawson, V., 2007. Geographies of care and responsibility. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 97(1): 1-11.
Massey, D. 2004. Geographies of responsibility, Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography,86:(1): 5-18.
Popke, J. 2003. Poststructural ethics: subjectivity, responsibility and the spaces of community. Progress in Human Geography, 27(3), 298-316.
Popke, J. 2009. Geography and ethics: non-representational encounters, collective responsibility and economic difference. Progress in Human Geography, 33(1), 81-90.
Young, I.M. 2007. Global Challenges: War, Self- determination and Responsibility. Cambridge: Polity Press.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Tora Johnson*, University of Maine at Machias, Dignity as an underpinning of responsibility in environmental governance 20 5:00 PM
Presenter Brittany Wheeler*, Clark University, Responsibility for the Past and Governance of the Future: Small Island States, Migration, and Distancing Power 20 5:20 PM
Presenter Sohyung Lim*, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, “And nobody was responsible for anything…”: Thinking of deflected responsibility in the Sewol Ferry Disaster in South Korea, 2014 20 5:40 PM
Presenter Beth Oppenheim*, University of Cape Town, Understanding Identity & Grassroots Organizations: Responsibility in Maputo, Mozambique 20 6:00 PM
Presenter Weiqiang Lin*, National University of Singapore, Infrastructuring Responsibility, Responsibilizing Infrastructure: Affective Politics in Airspace Production 20 6:20 PM

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