AAG 2018 Session and Panel on Anxious/Desiring Geographies

Along with Mikko Joronen (University of Tampere, Finland) and Nick Robinson (Royal Holloway) I’m very pleased and excited to announce two complementary sessions at next year’s AAG meetings on “Anxious/Desiring Geographies.” (See our CFP here.)

There will be a paper session and a panel session.

Paper presenters (abstracts below)

Pawan Singh (Deakin University) “Anxious to not be Identified in the Age of Social Media: Data Privacy and Visibility in Postcolonial India.

Keith Harris (University of Washington) “The schizo and the city: mapping desiring-geographies.”

Banu Gokariksel (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) and Anna J. Secor (University of Kentucky) “Ethical encounters, anxious antagonisms: The emergence of Alevi-Sunni difference in Turkey.

Laura McKinley (York University) “Canada 150 Discovery Pass; Anxiety, Desire and the Structure of Settler-Colonial Attachments to the Land.”

David B. Clarke (Swansea University) and Marcus Doel (Swansea University) “The Other is Not Enough: Becoming Afraid, Being Anxious, and Antiphilosophy in Book X of the Seminar of Jacques Lacan.”

(Chair: Mikko Joronen)

(Organizers: Jeremy Crampton, Mikko Joronen, and Nick Robinson)

Panel participants

Anna J. Secor (University of Kentucky)

Mikko Joronen (SPARG, Finland)

Sarah Moore (University of Wisconsin – Madison)

Felicity Callard (Birkbeck, University of London)

Paul Kingsbury (Simon Faser University)

(Chair: Jeremy Crampton).

(Organizers: Jeremy Crampton, Mikko Joronen and Nick Robinson)

We think these are two very exciting line-ups!

Read on!


“Anxious to not be Identified in the Age of Social Media: Data Privacy and Visibility in Postcolonial India” Pawan Singh.

An ongoing contentious public debate on the rights of Indian citizens to privacy in the context of the creep of the Indian government’s ‘aadhaar’ (foundation in Hindi) biometric identity project culminated recently when the Indian Supreme Court held privacy to be a fundamental right. While the court’s 2017 ruling linked privacy to various integral aspects of democratic life including free speech, bodily autonomy, personal data security and individual dignity, critics of the government’s biometric identity project, intended for the delivery of essential goods and services, have warned of the state surveillance of individuals in the name of transparent governance. They have raised an alarm about the loss of control over one’s personal data that may be (mis) used by the state towards social profiling on the basis of tastes, habits, location, identity and political speech. Through a close reading of media and legal debates on privacy, this paper discusses how the anxiety about the loss of control over personal data remains fraught with the contradiction of the simultaneous desire for online publicity in the age of social media. Drawing upon media and technology studies, legal studies and social geography, the paper coins the concept of “anxieties of recognition”, which pertain to the identification and visibility of the individual through various uses of information technologies. It concludes that individual identification/visibility emerge as the site of irreconcilable fetishization of eagerly sought everyday online publicity and desire for data privacy in the contemporary postcolonial Indian and broader transnational context.

“The schizo and the city: mapping desiring-geographies” Keith Harris.

Using the figure of the “schizo on a walk” to develop their concept of desire, Deleuze and Guattari write: “In a great book by Jacques Besse, we encounter once again the double stroll of the schizo, the geographic exterior voyage following nondecomposable distances, and the interior historical voyage enveloping intensities…” Besse’s desire pushes him back and forth across a Paris where solace can be found in Les Halles or near the fountain in front of Saint Sulpice. He is awestruck by the dome in Parc Buttes-Chaumont before his anxiety of being recognized drives him to set out down Rue la Fayette: “Beneath its straight sky, this is the only street in Paris that resembles New York. I hurtle toward l’Opéra. Two minutes later, anguish overcomes me. I find my lucidity again. Where am I going, what did I do?…In the heat, I turn into Faubourg-Montmartre and wonder how to find my Saint-Germain-des-Prés again.” This paper argues that Besse’s novella can be understood as a mapping of an intensive desiring-geography, a term I use to highlight the inseparability of each dimension, because from this perspective, desire produces space and space is simultaneously a constitutive element of desire. To map Besse’s extensive, schizophrenic walk using traditional or psychogeographic representation, would miss the intensive dimension of this geography: the affective shifts and the temporal gymnastics. To map this desiring-geography is to surf the edge between the intensive and extensive, exploring the continually shifting interactions between psychological states and spatial location.

“Ethical encounters, anxious antagonisms: The emergence of Alevi-Sunni difference in Turkey” Banu Gökarıksel and Anna J. Secor.

In this paper, we analyze eight focus groups with Alevi women (a minority religious group) that we conducted in Turkey in 2015 and 2016 to explore the political potential that inheres in the affective encounter with the other. We argue that the encounter is both the site of ethics and of anxiety. The subject’s relationship with the other is constitutive for both Lacan and Levinas, but their understanding of the affective and ethical significance of the encounter is quite different. For Levinas, the encounter with the other generates an ethics of responsibility, while for Lacan it is the site of anxiety, where the subject encounters a desire that originates outside of them and puts their very being into question. What makes the subject anxious is the sense that the Other does not acknowledge or even (mis)recognize them, but instead addresses them as fundamentally lacking. For example, in the everyday encounter between Alevi women and their Sunni neighbors, an ethical relation of obligation to the other emerges when Alevis bring food to their neighbors even knowing that it will be thrown out because Alevi hands have touched it. The (ethical) encounter thus also provokes anxiety: women repeatedly describe being disrespected, unrecognized, erased, and, referring back to the Alevi massacres of the 1980s, potentially obliterated. We argue that these affective encounters with difference create an opening for receptive ethical engagement, but that these openings also collapse into anxious antagonisms when emergent difference is captured within a striated political field.

“Canada 150 Discovery Pass; Anxiety, Desire and the Structure of Settler-Colonial Attachments to the Land.”

As part of the sesquicentennial celebration in Canada this year, Parks Canada is offering free entry to all national parks through the ‘Discovery Pass’, a name barely concealing the violent colonial doctrine of discovery required for the presence of the white settler nation in the first place. The initiative invited Canadians and other tourists the opportunity to come to know themselves as Canadians, or to play Canadian, through the ‘discovery’ of wilderness, naturalizing entitlement to stolen lands. The invitation to affectively identify the commemoration of the founding of the nation with the exploration of state controlled representative wilderness presents a compelling case study for the connection between land, anxiety and desire. This paper will explore the following questions using a psychoanalytic discourse analysis of governmental advertising and popular media representations of the 2017 Canada Parks Discovery Pass: do anxieties around the historic trauma of the violent removal of Indigenous peoples from the land produce desires for more innocent connections to the land through the national park-scape? What can the desire to increase the number of Canadians visiting national parks as part of a commemorative event reveal about white settler colonial governance and the affective attachments necessary for the naturalization of ongoing colonial theft and exploitation of Indigenous lands?

“The Other is Not Enough: Becoming Afraid, Being Anxious, and Antiphilosophy in Book X of the Seminar of Jacques Lacan.”

Working from a close reading of Book X of Jacques Lacan’s Seminar (1962–63) – on Anxiety (anguish or dread) – this paper offers a detailed exegesis with an eye towards space and spatiality. Specifically, it draws out notions of distancing and displacement in Lacan’s conception of the impossible object of anxiety as ‘too close for comfort.’ The paper focuses on two key dimensions that have been taken up in the secondary literature on Lacan’s Seminar X, most notably by Colette Soler and Brian Robertson. The first is Lacan’s conceptualization, vis-à-vis Freud’s, of affect (Affekt), representation (Vorstellung), and the difficult-to-translate Vorstellungsrepräsentanz – the ‘representative of the representation’ or ‘non-representative representative’ by means of which something that bypasses consciousness is relegated to the unconscious (forming its nucleus) in Freud’s primal repression (Urverdrängung). It is by way of the unconscious that Lacan distinguishes his conception of anxiety from the positions adopted by Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The second dimension relates to the sense in which Lacan’s seminar on anxiety might be seen as performing an antiphilosophy. Here we will aim to draw out the significance of the act (as opposed to meaning: e.g. ‘acting out’) in distinction to the event – particularly in relation to the category of truth and the work of Alain Badiou. The paper will thereby offer a new assessment of the relations between the cartographical and topological imaginations of geography and psychoanalysis, and reflect on the pertinence of Jacques Derrida’s notion of geopsychoanalysis.


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