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Geopower and Geopolitics in, of, and for the Middle East

  • Natalie Koch (a1)

In 1976, Michel Foucault gave a unique interview with the editors of the French geography journal, Hérodote. The interviewers pushed him to explicitly reflect on the many spatial concepts that pervade his writing, such as region, province, field, archipelago, and territory. In one reply, Foucault explained:

People have often reproached me for these spatial obsessions, which have indeed been obsessions for me. But I think through them I did come to what I had basically been looking for: the relations that are possible between power and knowledge. Once knowledge can be analyzed in terms of region, domain, implantation, displacement, transposition, one is able to capture the process by which knowledge functions as a form of power and disseminates the effects of power. There is an administration of knowledge, a politics of knowledge, relations of power which pass via knowledge and which, if one tries to transcribe them, lead one to consider forms of domination designated by such notions as field, region and territory.

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1 Foucault, Michel, “Questions on Geography,” in Space, Knowledge and Power: Foucault and Geography, ed. Crampton, Jeremy W. and Elden, Stuart (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2007), 177.

2 Ibid., 182.

3 Foucault, Michel, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977–1978, ed. Senellart, Michel (New York: Picador, 2007).

4 Tuathail, Gearóid Ó, Critical Geopolitics: The Politics of Writing Global Space (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 10.

5 Ibid., 7.

6 Paasi, Anssi, “The Resurgence of the ‘Region’ and ‘Regional Identity’: Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Observations on Regional Dynamics in Europe,” Review of International Studies 35 (2009): 133.

7 Koch, Natalie, “Is a ‘Critical’ Area Studies Possible?,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 34 (2016): 807 –14. See also Sidaway, James D., Ho, Elaine Le, Rigg, Jonathan D., and Woon, Chih Yuan, “Area Studies and Geography: Trajectories and Manifesto,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 34 (2016): 777 –90.

8 Murphy, Alexander B. and O'Loughlin, John, “New Horizons for Regional Geography,” Eurasian Geography and Economics 50 (2009): 245. See also Murphy, Alexander B, “Advancing Geographical Understanding: Why Engaging Grand Regional Narratives Matters,” Dialogues in Human Geography 3 (2013): 131 –49.

9 Koch, “Is a ‘Critical’ Area Studies Possible?,” 809.

10 Gupta, Akhil and Ferguson, James, “Discipline and Practice: ‘The Field’ as Site, Method, and Location in Anthropology,” in Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of Field Science, ed. Gupta, Akhil and Ferguson, James (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1997), 9.

11 See, for example, Koch, Natalie, “‘Building Glass Refrigerators in the Desert’: Discourses of Urban Sustainability and Nation Building in Qatar,” Urban Geography 35 (2014): 1118 –39; Koch, Natalie, “The Shifting Geopolitics of Higher Education: Inter/Nationalizing Elite Universities in Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and Beyond,” Geoforum 56 (2014): 4654 ; Koch, , “Gulf Nationalism and the Geopolitics of Constructing Falconry as a ‘Heritage Sport,’” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 15 (2015): 522 –39; Koch, , “Is Nationalism Just for Nationals? Civic Nationalism for Noncitizens and Celebrating National Day in Qatar and the UAE,” Political Geography 54 (2016): 4353 ; and Vora, Neha and Koch, Natalie, “Everyday Inclusions: Rethinking Ethnocracy, Kafala, and Belonging in the Arabian Peninsula,” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 15 (2015): 540 –52.

12 Paasi, “The Resurgence of the ‘Region’ and ‘Regional Identity,’” 133.

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International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 0020-7438
  • EISSN: 1471-6380
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies
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