Kansas holds Human Geography conference

The “World Human Geography Conference” organized by the University of Kansas, the Haskell Indian Nations University, the American Geographical Society and sponsored by the US Army Research Office, will be held later this week, Sept. 15-16, 2011.

In a press release the AGS say that the goals are to “improve US understanding of foreign people and places.” Signed by Jerry Dobson (AGS president), it continues

Gathering cultural intelligence presents new challenges to agencies more accustomed to imaging and analyzing physical terrain. On one hand, peaceful relations depend on mutual understanding which can only be earned through years of in-country fieldwork by dedicated researchers. On the other, the mere presence of such researchers can offend local sensibilities and place researchers at risk. Success depends on mutual consent by U. S. researchers and host communities with prospects for mutual benefit.

This is being organized in the wake of the controversies over both the AGS Bowman Expeditions (which Dobson will speak about) and the geographical involvement in human terrain systems.

Lessons learned?

Speakers include Jose Davis (Director of Human Terrain Systems Training)
Lee Schwartz, Office of the Geographer, US State Department
Denis Wood, author of The Power of Maps and Rethinking the Power of Maps
Joe Bryan, UC Boulder
Geoffrey Demerest (US Army Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth and author of Winning Insurgent War)
Barney Warf, U Kansas
Peter Herlihy, U Kansas
Ghazi Falah, U of Akron

An interesting mixture then, including both proponents and critics of Bowman Expeditions and human terrain systems. Hopefully the presentations will be made available online.

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