AAG 2020 CFPs
Panel: “Slow” Geographies and Ecological-Ethical Dilemmas of International Research
Co-organizers: Ashley Fent (Vassar College) and Joseph Holler (Middlebury College)
In spite of ongoing concerns and discussions about rapid climate change, the IPCC reported in 2018 that greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise and predicted that if current climate policies and levels of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are maintained, it will no longer be possible to remain below the IPCC’s target goal of a 1.5o C increase in warming. This year, 7,000 colleges, universities, technical schools and community colleges from around the world declared a climate emergency in a letter to the UN, pledging to increase their sustainability curriculum and reach carbon neutrality by 2050 (Ryan 2019). Meanwhile, due to various initiatives and petitions within diverse disciplines, academic conferences are moving toward low-emissions models.
We are interested in exploring in this panel what it might mean to do “slow” and less carbon-intensive geographical scholarship in conducting internationally-engaged research. Slow scholarship has previously been theorized through the lens of feminist theory as a collective response to the neoliberalization of the academy and the demands for rapid publication timelines associated with this growing emphasis on research productivity (Mountz et al. 2015). In our application of “slowness” to understandings of academics’ active engagement with climate change, we are interested in thinking with panelists about whether and how internationally-engaged research can be conducted more equitably and more sustainably.
Recent scholarship has expressed concerns that academic careers still require considerable amounts of air travel to participate in conferences and conduct international research. One study estimated that air travel to the 2011 AAG Annual Meeting in Seattle was responsible for 5,351 metric tons of carbon emissions--an amount that is 3.8 times the total annual emissions of the average Haitian (Nevins 2014). Air travel contributes four to nine percent of carbon emissions from human activities (David Suzuki Foundation 2017), and it is growing rapidly, with demand outpacing UN predictions and reducing the impact of efficiency gains made within the industry (Tabuchi 2019). Frequent fliers taking six round trips or more per year are responsible for 68% of the aviation industry's emissions (Rutherford 2019). Increasingly, both long- and short-term global research, study abroad, and fieldwork experiences are also being encouraged among undergraduates in geography and other disciplines (McGuinness and Simm 2005). At the same time, studies have found no correlation between metrics of academic productivity and emissions from air travel; this suggests that many scholars can reduce their professional travel without adversely impacting their academic success (Wynes et al. 2019). Of course, structural changes, both within academia and within capitalism, are needed to fully address what has been termed “ecological privilege,” as it pertains to inequalities in emissions and the effects of those emissions (Nevins 2014). However, these trends raise a series of dilemmas for critical scholars who conduct international research (often on issues that intersect with anthropogenic climate change) while acknowledging the need for socio-ecological transformation (Baer 2018; Kjellman 2019).
The environmental and climatic impacts of this air travel add to a number of other ethical dilemmas that emerge in particular from scholars from the Global North conducting international research, often in the Global South. Feminist scholars have raised issues of power in transnational research dynamics, and have encouraged greater attention to positionality and the negotiated ethics and relational racialized and gendered subjectivities involved in the research and writing process (Kobayashi 1994; Sultana 2007; Faria and Mollett 2016). Additionally, scholars have critically examined the unequal relationships between foreign researchers and their research assistants and research participants, tracing both the problematic power differentials and the opportunities for collaboration, debate, and co-authorship that arise from these relationships (Neely and Nguse 2015). Some scholars have argued against a reactive turn away from research in the Global South in order to conduct “safer” and ostensibly less problematic textual analysis, which may fail to engage with the concerns and preoccupations of real-world individuals and communities (Nagar 2002). In this view, critical scholars should develop better ways of working through the dissonances and discomforts of conducting and writing transnational research, rather than retreating entirely from the prospect of doing international fieldwork. We view climate change as illustrating these ethical dilemmas further, as the emissions from personal and professional consumptive practices in the Global North exacerbate extremely dangerous living conditions for people in the Global South. This situation prevents climate solidarity and perpetuates racialized and gendered forms of structural and ecological violence.
We invite panelists to consider questions such as:
What are some models of international collaboration that you have used in your work? How can electronic networks, social media, and virtual meeting platforms be used to coordinate research and conferences?To what extent can and should the "speed" of remote data-driven research (e.g. with microdata and remote sensing) replace the necessity for air travel and in situ empirical observation? (And what are the emissions impacts of relying on energy-intensive digital technologies and data centers?)How do you balance your interest and/or your students’ interest in international dynamics with the need to reduce air travel? Have you found ways to engage and address your research through more localized data collection practices?What are some of the professional and personal difficulties you have encountered in practicing “slow” research?What are the limitations of individualized or department-level initiatives to reduce air travel? What are some strategies for enacting and advocating structural changes?How might seniority and tenure play a role in who can practice “slow” geography and who cannot?What should be the differential obligations of scholars who have benefited from the white supremacist and patriarchal capitalist system that has driven anthropogenic climate change, and those who belong to communities that have been marginalized, oppressed, and subjected to various forms of violence by this system?
We invite participants from both the Global North and the Global South in this panel, which will be run as an informal, roundtable discussion. We encourage remote participation, via Zoom. Significantly reduced rates are available for virtual participation, at $10 for students and $20 for faculty (more information on how to register at these rates TBD). Reduced rates for in-person attendance are also available for students, underemployed scholars, and scholars from developing countries.
Call for Papers, AAG 2020: Navigating wicked problems as geographers: challenges and strategies for participating in wicked problem research
Organizers: Jeffrey Swofford, Arizona State University
Wicked problems are problems that are difficult or impossible to solve because they are ill defined, more complex than we fully grasp, and open to multiple interpretations. Wicked problems are overwhelming—for both the communities they impact and the researchers who study them. Indeed, academic and professional engagement related to wicked problems might have the capacity for creating unique stressors and challenges for the experts themselves. Considering that many students and scholars studying geography may focus on wicked problems throughout their careers, understanding the social-psychological challenges of working with wicked problems and the potential strategies that can be used to manage these challenges is an important contribution to both research and teaching in geography.This organized session will feature early-stage research proposals, conceptual research, and empirical research that highlight the challenges of developing new knowledge and research for wicked problem topics. We especially encourage presenters that showcase real-world examples and/or new methodological approaches for analyzing the geographic dimensions of wicked problems. Possible topics may include but are not limited to:
Human-geography research related to wicked problems in areas such as poverty, food and hunger, violence, health and wellness, politics, global change and the environment, for example.Challenges associated with conducting research and fieldwork in communities impacts by wicked problems; and strategies for addressing these challenges.Exploring researcher-research participant relationships related to wicked problems research.Frameworks and typologies for understanding geographic and interdisciplinary research related to wicked problems.Other proposed topics related to wicked problems.
Interested participants should email their abstract to Jeffrey Swofford (firstname.lastname@example.org) by November 13, 2019.
AAG 2020 CFP: Should the AAG Consider Carbon Offsets as Part of Its Transition to Low-Emissions Annual Meetings?
Call for Panelists for the AAG 2020 Annual Meeting
Session Sponsored by the AAG Council’s Climate Action Task Force, Energy and Environment Specialty Group
Concern about the considerable CO2 footprint associated with travel to and from large academic conferences is growing in light of the climate crisis. Among the proposed remedies are carbon offsets, which many champion as a way of erasing the detrimental climate impacts of air travel. Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, for instance, characterizes them as “a viable means of decarbonizing your air travel.” At the same time, many take issue with offsetting. Kevin Anderson, a professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester, calls offsetting “worse than doing nothing,” “without scientific legitimacy,” and “dangerously misleading.” As the AAG seeks to dramatically reduce the CO2 emissions associated with its annual meetings—which now draw between 7,000 and 9,000 registered participants--the AAG Council’s Climate Action Task Force invites panelists to engage the debate over carbon offsets. The panel welcomes panelists who will be present in Denver as well as those who would like to participate via video conferencing.
Please contact John Hayes email@example.com if you have any questions or would like to participate.
Energy Poverty & Beyond: Understanding Energy-Society Tensions
Organizer: Joshua Randall - North Carolina State UniversityEnergy poverty, the lack of households to acquire and afford energy and necessary levels, is a global issue occurring at various geographies. Further, it is multidimensional and reproducing, as political, structural, social and spatial implications all play parts in how energy poverty (and other social impacts) exists. Although energy poverty is a pressing issue, it is not the only way in which the connection between society and energy is present. Research situating the tensions between society and energy exists through theoretical frameworks, explicit spatial analysis, and much more. With the end goal of a just energy system, how do geographers focus and frame these interactions, especially considering a changing climate and population patterns? What can be gleaned from the wide range of energy-society research to help push forward a goal of a just energy world?
This session welcomes papers that are approaching the social impacts of energy, with a focus on energy poverty, energy vulnerability, energy justice (including just energy transitions), or any similar topics through a spatial lens. This session extends a broad reach, from applied work to theoretical, to better tie both the understanding of the social realities of energy and the spatial analysis of energy as one process.
Please contact Josh Randall at firstname.lastname@example.org with an AAG PIN and abstract by November 1st if interested!
CFP AAG: Making Things the Same: How Carbon Has Been Constructed for Decarbonization Policies
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, China Specialty Group, Energy and Environment Specialty Group
Organizers: Xi Wang, Cecilia Springer
A growing number of jurisdictions around the world are recognizing the threat of climate change and implementing policies to reduce their own carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is conceptualized as a global pollutant because it is in theory spatially homogeneous in its impacts. Thus, climate policies have largely framed the climate change problem and carbon dioxide emissions as a set of technical and managerial challenges (Edwards 2010) requiring the application of economic theory (Lohmann 2009). However, decarbonization policies at all levels hinge on local efforts--and have localized impacts. The production, measurement, and regulation of carbon dioxide emissions is a highly heterogeneous process incumbent upon existing social, spatial, and political economic dynamics, making these policies highly relevant to geographers. This raises questions around the construction of carbon as a commodity; how biochemical processes came to be counted and made fungible; how systems of measurement, tracking, and exchange are defined, managed, and regulated; the political economy of decarbonization; and who gains and loses through the construction and implementation of decarbonization policies.
We ask: What are the costs of the emerging technocratic regime to managing carbon? Geographers have begun to explore the nature of decarbonization efforts, from market-based instruments like carbon pricing policies (Bryant 2017) to non-market policies like voluntary targets and command-and-control regulations, as well as complementary policies that address renewable energy and energy efficiency. Others have begun to assess the environmental justice impacts of carbon pricing programs (Cushing et al. 2016). This session aims to apply a critical lens to policy instruments that theorize carbon as a commodity. We are interested in papers that draw on theories from science and technology studies, political economy, political ecology, climate and environmental justice, and other critical approaches to open up new frameworks and methodologies for understanding the construction, implementation, and impacts of decarbonization policies in different geographies. Specifically, this session seeks to promote discussion around the following themes and questions:
- The political economy of decarbonization policies- Differences between decarbonization policies in theory and in practice, and the production of socio-spatial unevenness and disparity- Expertise and knowledge production in the design of decarbonization policies (Lippert 2015), as well as the relationship between decarbonization policies and citizen science/advocacy- The ways in which the materiality of carbon and carbon dioxide emissions interact with regulatory structures (Mackenzie 2009)- The logics of neoliberalism and accumulation expressed in carbon pricing mechanisms (Knox-Hayes 2010; Bohm et al. 2012)- The historical context and genealogies of decarbonization policies- The expression of modernity, ecological modernization, and futurism in decarbonization infrastructures (Bailey et al. 2011; Knox-Hayes 2010)- The effects of decarbonization policies, including but not limited to hot spots and related environmental and climate justice concerns (Cushing et al. 2016)
Call for Submissions
Please send your abstract of no more than 250 words to Cecilia Springer (email@example.com) and Xi Wang (firstname.lastname@example.org) before November 15, 2019.