Obama Administration’s Global Surveillance Hurting U.S. in Latin America

banksy-cctvAmid racing into the final months of my dissertation research (my plan is to wrap up in December or January), I managed to rattle off an op-ed last week focusing on the NSA diplomatic spying scandal. Published through the McClatchy-Tribune network of newspapers via the Progressive Media Project, here are its opening lines:

The backlash from revelations that the United States spied on world leaders once again shows the dangers of our runaway surveillance state. The Obama administration has got to rein it in.

This time, it’s our most important diplomatic alliances that have been damaged. Reports indicate the National Security Agency was monitoring the phone conversations of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and at least 35 other global leaders. Continue reading

Posted in Law, Media, Security, Sovereignty, The State | Leave a comment

Grassroots Masquerades: Development, Paramilitaries, and Land Laundering in Colombia

Jesus Abad Colorado-Paras CordobaMy article “Grassroots Masquerades: Development, Paramilitaries, and Land Laundering” was just published by Geoforum. The article will be out in hardcopy in Volume 50 (December 2013), but it’s already available online. The first version of the article was presented at the Second Conference on Global Land Grabbing at Cornell University. I also presented a draft as part of the seven-part Violence and Space sessions organized by Philippe Le Billon and Simon Springer during the Association of American Geographers meeting in Los Angeles. Below is an abstract of the paper. Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Development, Drugs, Forests, Frontiers, Illegality, Insurgency/Counterinsurgency, Land, Law, Michel Foucault, Peace, Political Ecology, Political Economy, Primitive Accumulation, The State | Leave a comment

The Birth of Territory

Birth of TerritoryStuart Elden has announced the publication of his much anticipated book, The Birth of Territory. At this blog—not least because of its name—we’ve followed the progress of this work very closely. As I said back then: “We’ve admired this work—the royal ‘we,’ of course—from afar and eagerly await its fetished form in our grubby hands. One nice thing about this project has been learning about its various stages of development through his blog.  It’d be nice if more authors developed this kind of approach to producing the shiny, mystified things we call ‘books.’ Observers can learn a lot from seeing other people’s torturous path toward the finished product.” Gastón Gordillo has similarly opened up his black box to prying eyes for his forthcoming book on the political life of rubble. Derek Gregory has done the same for his various projects. Nice going geographers! Elden’s back cover blurb from the University of Chicago Press: Continue reading

Posted in Historical-Geographies, Land, Law, Maps, Place, Power, Sovereignty, Spatiality, Territory, The State | Leave a comment

Interview: Mass Protests Rock Colombia

Protests in Colombia-EITAN ABRAMOVICH-AFP/Getty.As mass protests in Colombia entered into their tenth day yesterday, I was interviewed by KPFA about the mobilizations that continue spreading throughout the country. Negotiations between the government and protest leaders continue. What began as a strike by peasants and agrarian workers now also includes organized labor groups, students, and other civil society groups.


Posted in Agriculture, Development, Insurgency/Counterinsurgency, Land, Media, Peace, Political Ecology, Political Economy, Primitive Accumulation, Violence | 4 Comments

Mapping the Global Arms Trade

MADThe global trade in small arms is booming. This is particularly the case in the developing world. The developing world continues to be the primary focus of arms sales, comprising almost 84% of the dollar value of arms transfer agreements worldwide. Some developing countries, such as Brazil, have also become major exporters of arms, even though the U.S., Europe, and Russia are still (by far) the leading arms peddlers of the world. All this is made strikingly apparent in the Mapping Arms Data (MAD) visualization designed by the Rio de Janeiro-based Igarapé Institute in conjunction with PRIO and Google Ideas. MAD, originally released in 2012 and relaunched this year, is currently in the running for a data visualization competition (it got my vote). The map was also featured in a BBC report that includes a brief interview with one of MAD’s designers.

Posted in Maps, Media, Networks, Peace, Security, Violence | Leave a comment

Interweb Motley # 21

PipeEyes_525Lapham’s Quarterly‘s new issue, which takes up the topic of the sea, begins with this 1757 quote from Edmund Burke: “The ocean is an object of no small terror. Indeed, terror is in all cases whatsoever, either more openly or latently, the ruling principle of the sublime.”

Limn‘s new issue is all about “sentinels,” defined as indicators announcing approaching dangers, things that make a future imperfect scrutable in the present. Bees, bears, machines, experts, the city, and more make appearances.

Rob Walker on what makes “good” street art over at Design Observer. For him, it’s all about playing with the actual materiality of spaces, a détournement that inserts “beauty and wonder into the lowliest, least spectacular, least obvious places we (fail to) see every day.”

Humanity has a three-part interview with James Ferguson. In revisiting his book The Anti-Politics Machine in Part I, he calls development “swarming state power.” In Part II, he reiterates his critique of critiques of neoliberalism. III discusses the role academics should be playing in political struggles surrounding development.

Posted in Critique, Development, Interweb Motley, Science & Tech., Security, The Sea | Leave a comment

Friday Fun: Geoguessr

Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 3.48.46 PMThis game is just too fun and addictive (in a nerdy way) to not deserve a post. But first, how many of you geographers have been through something like this:

“Oh, you’re a geographer. [PAUSE] Wow.”
“They still have that?”
“So do you know all the state capitals?”
“You must have a really good sense of direction.”

Fear not, my fellow geographers… Now you can really show off your geographic badassness by trying your luck at GeoGuessr, an online game in which you’re virtually plopped into a random spot in the street-view world of google maps and you’re supposed to guess where in the world you are. You get to poke around a little. The closer to the actual spot, the higher your score. And it shows you how far off the mark your guesses are. You get five “plops” per game.

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Interweb Motley # 20

98eaf05c1dd22d0eaf7611c076859597_vice_630x420Happy May Day! Peter Linebaugh has the most “Incomplete, True, Authentic, and Wonderful History of May Day.”

Confessions of a Troll…” about power on the Internets or as a friend put it: the Master-Slave Dialectic in the Age of Digital Reproduction.

Also about Internets: Stuart Elden pointed me to a piece on how a lone hacker gave us the most complete map of the Internet ever made (see above). S/he mentions wanting to work on an “Internet scale.”

Having a bad day? Would it help if I put it in (temporal) context for you?

Interesting review by Trevor Paglen of Laura Kurgan’s Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics.

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Awkward Seas and Exclusive Economic Zones

Vija Celmins-UntitledNew Left Review‘s new issue has an article by Peter Nolan that surveys the national “territorial” claims over the world’s oceans: “Imperial Archipelagos.” The sea as an awkward political space is one of those hobby interests of mine that may some day turn into something more. This blog has looked at pirates, off-shore havens (data and finance), sea shores, and in general the legal-political geographies of the sea, so I read Nolan’s piece with interest. His article uses the current dispute between China and Japan over the uninhabited Diaoyu (in Chinese) or Senkaku (in Japanese) island group on the edge of the South China Sea to give a historical survey and global sweep of how resource-hungry world powers have carved up the sea. Below are some excerpts from Nolan’s article, but first one more thing. Continue reading

Posted in Boundaries, Frontiers, Historical-Geographies, Land, Law, Nation/Nationalism, Pirates, Post-Colonial, Power, Sovereignty, Spatiality, Territory, The Sea, The State | 1 Comment

Interweb Motley # 19

Nataliya Slinko-Karl Marx's BeardA new biography by Jonathan Sperber on Karl Marx, which implicitly proposes a materialist account of a materialist thinker, has gotten a glowing review by the NY Times and much less favorable one [PDF] from Terry Eagleton.

The University of Arizona has launched the Public Political Ecology Lab with an accompanying blog.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) released a massive investigative report based on a trove of leaked documents (larger than Wikileaks’ Cablegate) on global money laundering and tax havens: “Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze.”

A New Yorker piece profiling the work of Neil Freemen, an urban planner, artist, and urban geography provocateur: “The Alternative Geography of Neil Freemen.”

Looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues at the Association of American Geographers’ meeting next week in LA!

Posted in Interweb Motley | 1 Comment