Every year, nearly 10,000 academics converge on one particular U.S. city in the name of all things geography – Boston, Massachusetts being the location of choice for the annual AAG (American Association of Geographers) conference in April 2017.
With a vast array of potential sessions, panels and presentations – the AAG has something for everyone: from Geographies of Bread and Water in the 21st Century to subjects pertaining to aspects of Physical Geography, Geopolitics, and even Cyber Infrastructure!
Visiting the AAG has long been a personal ambition of mine since beginning my own undergraduate degree, and this year finally presents an opportunity after my paper (and preliminary thesis title) – “How to Backup your
Files Nation-State in a Digital Era: The Estonian Data Embassy” – was accepted onto a fantastic looking double-session titled: Curating (in)security: Unsettling Geographies of Cyberspace. (see below)
Curated by Pip Thornton (RHUL) and Andrew Dwyer (Oxford), who are both in the CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training) in Cyber Security, the session intends to “initiate an exploration of the contributions geography can bring to cybersecurity and space” – a somewhat new phenomenon within the discipline of geography itself. As the original CfP suggests:
“This is an attempt to move away from the dominant discourses around conflict and state prevalent in international relations, politics, computer science and security/war studies. As a collective, we believe geography can embrace alternative perspectives on cyber (in)securities that challenge the often masculinist and populist narratives of our daily lives. Thus far, there has been limited direct engagement with cybersecurity within geographical debates, apart from ‘cyberwar’ (Kaiser, 2015; Warf 2015), privacy (Amoore, 2014), or without recourse to examining this from the algorithmic or code perspective (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011; Crampton, 2015).
As geographers, we are ideally placed to question the discourses that drive the spatio-temporal challenges made manifest though cyber (in)securities in the early 21st century. This session attempts to provoke alternative ways we can engage and resist in the mediation of our collective technological encounters, exploring what a research agenda for geography in this field might look like, why should we get involved, and pushing questions in potentially unsettling directions. This session therefore seeks to explore the curative restrictions and potentials that exude from political engagement, commercial/economic interests, neoliberal control and statist interventions. The intention is not to reproduce existing modes of discourse, but to stimulate creative and radical enquiry, reclaiming curation from those in positions of power not only in terms of control, but by means of restorative invention.”
For me, this will be one of the first opportunities to talk about my own research in a conference-style setting; and alongside the likes of Louise Amoore (Durham), Martin Dodge (Manchester), Phil Garnett (York), Vincent Miller (Kent) and Nat O’Grady (Southampton), I couldn’t find myself on a more esteemed program.
In the run-up to Boston, we will no doubt be hearing more on the conference, and more from our RHUL colleagues taking part (Geopolitics and beyond) as we descend on the historical Beantown for arguably the biggest conference in the world!