CFP AAG: Geographies of Intelligence

Call for Papers, Association of American Geographers 2011, Seattle, USA
April 12-16, 2011

Organisers: Jeremy Crampton (Georgia State University) and Trevor Barnes (University of British Columbia).

Session jointly sponsored by the Political Geography Specialty Group and the Historical Geography Specialty Group.

Call for Papers: Geographies of Intelligence.

News headlines this year were much dominated by two stories: WikiLeaks, a stateless organization dedicated to publishing governmental secrets relating to corruption and coverups. As such, it publishes sensitive state intelligence, and much of the attention it received this year focused on the “War Diary” which were published simultaneously in three different newspapers. These War Diaries provided one of the few glimpses into US intelligence and its part in the prosecution of war. They were also extremely controversial, raising issues of free speech, state secrets, endangerment of troops and the nature of intelligence in a democracy.

The same month the Diaries were published, the Washington Post published the results of a two-year analysis of what it called “top-secret America” revealing that it is spread across at least 10,000 different US locations and that it employs some 854,000 people with top-secret security clearances.

Geography, and geographers, are heavily involved in the production of geographical intelligence, known as GEOINT. What does this involve? What technologies are deployed (GIS, mapping and remote sensing) for what purposes? What are the networks of intelligence, resources and sources of information? How is information shared between countries? In Trevor Paglen’s words, what is going on in the “blank spots on the map?” Perhaps not surprisingly, remarkably little is known about geographies of intelligence, but as both WikiLeaks and the Post story illustrate, this need not be the case. Intelligence can be related to, but is not the same as, war, and geographers such as Derek Gregory, Colin Flint and Michael Heffernan have contributed to our knowledge. Additionally, as records are declassified (eg for the OSS and CIA) the nature of intelligence can be traced for events that played defining roles in history, such as the Second World War or Vietnam. In these cases, geographers often staffed the intelligence desks.

This session invites contributions on the broad issue of intelligence and its geographies. We are interested in papers that trace both contemporary and historical aspects of this question. Topics may include but are not limited to:

• Intelligence and terrorism
• Networks of intelligence/intelligent networks
• Geographers and GEOINT
• Geographers and foreign policy/area studies
• Covert landscapes/sites–where is intelligence produced?
• Intelligence “in the field”
• The role of state geographical secrets in a democracy
• WikiLeaks: a danger or the next generation of journalism?
• The historical emergence of centralized intelligence gathering in different countries
• Intelligence, the military, and the state
• In what ways does intelligence characterize territory, terrain or populations?
• Human Terrain Systems (HTS) and embedded geographers/geographies
• Critical historical moments in the production of geographic intelligence
• How has involvement in intelligence been reflected back in the disciplines of geography and cartography?
• The role of geospatial technologies (GIS, cartography, remote sensing) in intelligence
• Geographic intelligence, declassification and FOIA
• Cryptanalysis

In addition to registering your abstract for the conference on the AAG website, please submit an abstract and Presenter Identification Number (PIN) to either Jeremy Crampton (jcrampton@gsu.edu) or Trevor Barnes (tbarnes@geog.ubc.ca) no later than 12th October 2010.

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