This is a growing interdisciplinary field of research at UBC. Drawing on political and cultural theory as well as critical geopolitics, it traces the connections between the spaces of geopolitics and the lives of ordinary people 'on the ground' and so traverses the transnational, the national and the local. En route, it engages with the politics of identities and geopolitical representation, with questions of power, space and political transition, and with discourses of rights and security politics. These themes are explored mostly through qualitative and interpretive approaches. Current research topics include discourses of security, European Union external relations, war and political violence in the Middle East, an historical geography of bombing, immigration and human rights, geographies of war and environmental security.
Faculty working on Political Geography
Derek Gregory, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor
(Late) modern war, biopolitics and political violence
M.A., Ph.D. (1981), University of Cambridge
"My research has two interconnected themes. Most generally, I am interested in the spatial modalities of late modern war, where military violence, occupation and peace bleed into one another. My focus for these investigations is the Middle East, specifically Iraq and Israel/Palestine, but I also consider Afghanistan/Pakistan, East Africa and the geography of the global war prison. My particular concerns are in the production of spaces that make war possible and permissible via practices of locating, inverting and excepting and in the production of imaginative counter-geographies through artwork, drama and literature. I am also interested in cultural and political geographies of bombing, from Europe bombing its colonial populations in the early twentieth century through Spain, the Second World War, the wars in Korea, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, to the Gulf War, Afghanistan / Pakistan and Iraq. In both cases I draw (critically) on ideas from cultural and political theory/philosophy (including Agamben, Butler and Foucault) and from the visual arts and literary studies (including Said and Sebald)."
Honours: Fellow of the British Academy; Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; Dr. h.c (Heidelberg); Dr. h.c. (Roskilde); Peter Wall Distinguished Professor
Email Contact: email@example.com
Office Phone: 604-822-4719
Room Number: GEOG 140F
Merje Kuus, Associate Professor
Borders, security, state power
BA, University of Tartu; MSc, Western Washington University; Ph.D. (1999), Syracuse University
"My research focuses on political geography and geopolitics -- particularly on security and state power, borders and surveillance, and policy-making processes in complex bureaucratic structures. In broad terms, I investigate how political practices are underpinned by spatially defined categories like center and margin, inside and outside, Self and Other. These categories, I contend, are central to the processes by which complex political issues come to be defined and managed in a particular manner. Within that problematic, my interests converge on the question of how specifically spatial categories function in daily politics at various sites -- for example, within foreign policy bureaucracies. I have also worked on, and continue to be interested in, political identity and subjectivity, nationalism and transnationalism, and citizenship and belonging, especially in contemporary Europe. By virtue of my regional expertise, I am keenly interested in the ways in which places and regions are written onto our mental maps on a daily basis."
Email Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Phone: 604-822-3443
Room Number: GEOG 235
Philippe LeBillon, Professor
Geopolitics, armed conflicts, international aid
Honours Degree, Universite d'Angers; M.B.A., Institut d'Administration des Entreprises; D.Phil. (1999), Oxford University
"My research interests bring together political geography, political ecology, and war studies. I have focused most of my work on the links between natural resources and armed conflicts, but also examined the political economy of war and reconstruction, the resource curse, corruption, as well as natural disasters and political crises. Most of my fieldwork has been conducted in South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, but I also have a long-standing interest in Latin America. I tend to use historically grounded fieldwork approaches, occasionally using comparative and large-N quantitative methods. While remaining targeted at an academic audience, I have also thrived to make some of my work policy relevant. I am currently working on the political geography of oil, as well as post-conflict violence."
Dr. Le Billon holds a joint appointment in the Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts, and the Liu Institute for Global Issues, College for Interdisciplinary Studies.
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Office Phone: 604-822-5218
Room Number: GEOG 216
Department of Geography - Faculty of Arts - The University of British Columbia