CFP: The politics of recognition

CFP: The politics of recognition

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2015

University of Exeter | September 1-4, 2015


Vanessa Sloan Morgan, Department of Geography

Heather Castleden, Department of Geography and Department of Public Health Sciences; Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada

Recognition has played a key role in characterizing difference, institutionalizing diversity, and disrupting hegemony in recent decades (Taylor, 1994). Recognition, however, is not always sufficient to redress injustices, prevent violence, or move beyond fiercely ingrained embodiments of power when they are socially enacted, and structural embedded. Whether shedding light on the fallacies of institutional campaigns for diversity (Ahmed, 2012), or rejecting colonially entrenched forms of state recognition (Coulthard, 2014), scholars are demonstrating not only the inefficiency of recognition, but the deeply entrenched politics that underlie these, oftentimes liberalized, acknowledgements. Land claims policies in settler colonial contexts are one such example of how the politics of recognition are used to skew the roots of colonial violence; whereby historical and ongoing processes of dispossession are masked with the state’s gift of property (Blomley, 2014), nowhere is the de facto sovereignty of the state present in these negotiations (Pasternak, 2014). The politics of ‘saying sorry’, as demonstrated by Australia and Canada’s Prime Ministers’ (2008) apologies to Indigenous peoples for the stolen generations, South African (1996) leaders apologies for the apartheid era, and American (1988) and provincial Canadian government’s (2012) apologies for the Japanese internment during World War II, are also relevant when viewed within their structural houses. As Massey points out “apologizing does not always amount to the same thing as taking responsibility” (Massey, 2004: 10). Labeling the current epoch as the ‘anthropocene’ bares witness to politics of recognition in its own right; now that the ‘new human’ era is identified, what implications are involved with human interaction with the environment? With a potential climate crisis on the horizon, what are the politics of prevention? Other questions pertaining to the politics of recognition include: Within the realm of academe, how do recognition of research partnerships, acts of co-authorship, or navigating the ownership of data translate? As geographers, how can we critically explore politics of recognition in a manner that pushes past rigid boundaries and structural barriers? How can politics of recognition be spatially understood?

This session will explore the politics of recognition in various contexts. We seek submissions that critically investigate: 1) How discourse and action operate in spaces of recognition?; 2) What are the politics of apology?; 3) What implications do acknowledgements, such as territorial addresses in settler colonial and/or occupied contexts, have on political situations?; 4) What politics of recognition are at play in research contexts?; and 5) What are the politics of rejecting recognition? Papers on slow violence, land claims, apologies, politics of solidarity, and neo-imperialism are especially encouraged, however in no way exclusively called for.

Please submit abstracts (200 words maximum) to Vanessa Sloan Morgan ( and Heather Castleden ( by February 17th, 2015. Questions or comments about the session are also welcomed.


Ahmed, S. (2012). On being included: Racism and institutional life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Blomley, N. (2014). Making Space for Property. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 10(6), 1291–1306.

Coulthard, G. (2014). Red skin, white masks: Rejecting the colonial politics of recognition. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Massey, D. (2004). Geographies of responsibility. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 86(1), 5–18.

Pasternak, S. (2014). Jurisdiction and settler colonialism: Where do laws meet? Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 29(2), 145–161.

Taylor, C. (1994). The politics of recognition. In A. Guttman (Ed.), Multiculturalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


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