Creating people's geographies
Update: This site has been irregularly maintained for the past couple of years. It may be updated and relaunched shortly — am just juggling a lot of work!
Dr Ann El Khoury
Peoples Geography is a site that contributes to the project of promoting contemporary radical* geography, a rich tradition of dissent and positing alternatives, a political movement to reclaim mind-spaces and virtual spaces, as well as public (physical) space.
*Radical – the root of the matter: [from Late Latin radicalis, having roots]
The phrase ‘people’s geography’ is drawn from and inspired by one of my favourite geographers, David Harvey. In 1984 he called for a people’s geography, writing:
The geography we make must be a people’s geography, not based on pious universalisms, ideals and good intents, but a more mundane enterprise that reflects earthly interests, and claims, that confronts ideologies and prejudice as they really are, that faithfully mirrors the complex weave of competition, struggle, and cooperation within the shifting social and physical landscapes of the twentieth [and twenty-first] century. The world must be depicted, analyzed, and understood [as] the material manifestation of human hopes and fears mediated by powerful and conflicting processes of social reproduction. Such a peoples’ geography must have a popular base, be threaded into the fabric of daily life with deep taproots into the well-springs of popular consciousness. But it must also open channels of communication, undermine parochialist world views, and confront or subvert the power of the dominant classes or the state. It must penetrate the barriers to common understandings by identifying the material base to common interests.
— Harvey, ‘On the History and Present Condition of Geography: A Historical-Materialist Manifesto’ first published in Professional Geographer, 1984; see also his Spaces of Capital, Ch 6, 2001:116–117.
Harvey sounded a clarion call and has inspired many of us (see the excellent New York-based Peoples Geography Project organisational website as a primary example).
This project must surely be propositional and not just oppositional, but before we posit geographies of enablement and not just of resistance we must know what exactly are the disabling and disempowering currents out there eroding democracy and freedom and reducing agency to being good consumer sheeple – corporatism, rabid consumerism, militarism, racism, sexism … all these should be consigned to wasms.This is a project to reclaim our spaces, our geographies … please come along for the ride. This site is a noticeboard, a repository, a safe-space to air thoughts and to emote, a part of cyberspace that shall be forever radical … (read = aims for justice).
Reclaiming peoples geographies intimates a grassroots endeavour that involves reappropriating what is and was always ours – our common weal, our agency, our dignity, and capacity to create and shape our futures.
Amid an era of waning Empire, our dissent also requires of us humour, and a well developed sense of the ridiculous, as the horrors of contemporary Empire and militarism pile up and are slowly brought to light.
Humour and a sense of play all keep our spirits up and keep us going, renewing our agency and prevent us from succumbing to despair. We recognise too, that often deep truth lies in satire, and that the twenty-first century equivalents of the mediaeval court jester, the satirists, political cartoonists and comedians, are needed and appreciated now more than ever.
While this weblog has a decidedly political focus currently quite weighted toward Middle East issues, it also reflects a much broader interest in people, culture, empowerment, and political strategies.
Thanks for coming by, and do drop in any time, feel free to participate, wherever you are on spaceship earth.
Email: ann @ peoplesgeography.com
Good morning Ann. What is PhD?, I suppose it means Philosofy Degree or Phisics Degree. Human Geography and the social matters here seem to be closer to Philosofy. Interesting.
Hi Rochonf and thanks for your comment. We joke that ‘PhD’ stands for “Piled Higher and Deeper”. Yes you’re right the Ph stands for Philosophy, and the D for Doctorate. You also rightly situate human geography in the social sciences. My research area in particular is geopolitics and international relations.
Yes it is a pretty heavy weblog as you said on your other comment. It serves as something of an archive for press articles which I started for students and friends. I migrated it across to wordpress from blogspot. I’ve really liked wordpress, lots of fun and a good community.
I also wholeheartedly agree with your well-expressed remarks on the other post thread that as humans we need to keep our humour and maintain our sanity by disconnecting from the politics and pain. We need arts, nature, poetry, music, hanging out, doing nothing, smelling the roses, enjoying the moment, feeling the sunshine, walking in the rain, laughing, love, being silly, peaceful things to recharge our batteries and cope with the news … (even better, to shape the news, for the better! ;) What do I do? I go for walks, hang out with friends at a good cafe, read science fiction, go away somewhere new for a weekend, and best of all … do sweet nothing :) If you have any other good unwinding strategies do let me know!
Ann: A few comments. First, your site requires one to be logged in to comment. Yet I couldn’t find any link to register. So if you’re not already registered how would you comment if you couldn’t register?
I’d love to feature yr blog feed at my Israel Palestine Blogs. But do you have a separate feed for yr categories? In WordPress.org all categories are automatically assigned rss feeds. But that doesn’t seem to work w. WordPress.com which you’re using (unless I’m doing something wrong). I don’t want to feature the feed for yr entire blog since it covers far more than the I-P conflict. But I’d love to feature a feed for your ‘Israel’ or ‘Palestine’ categories.
On the feeds question I can readily provide a solution: the feed URLS should be
substituting other desired tags you may consider relevant (eg Israel-watch, Palestine Peace).
Hope that works and let me know how it goes.
I’ll look into the question of ability to leave a response without registering at WordPress.
I came just to say hello, lovely friend, and I also want you to know that I also admire you for your social sensitiveness and your work we all can read here, Ann. Furthermore, that eye is captivating ;-) I will link to your site tomorrow. You almost share the same geographical position as my friend Tracy.
Gracias mi amigo por tus comentarios encantadores. ¡La España y Australia de Viva! ;)
for your dissertation research it seems to me you should be aware of
http://www.wrmea.com washington report on middle east affairs
and its related site
Sara, thanks for coming by. My research for the dissertation specifically is actually on grassroots globalisation and endeavours such as microcredit, cyberactivism and community cooperatives. The Middle East and related interests (I teach geography and international relations) are however also very close to my heart and mind. I really appreciate those worthwhile links and will bookmark them for reference.
Ann: I just added your Israel feed to Israel Palestine Blogs. Sorry it took me so long to get back here & see the feed URLs you’d provided. If you publish more posts about Palestine than Israel, I can switch the feed to Palestine.
I seem to be having some difficulty getting the Israel tag feed to work at Israel Palestine Blogs. I’m not sure why.
Thanks Richard. Its a conspiracy! Shouldn’t matter too much, as most posts involve both I and P. Thanks for adding my blog to the feed at this worthwhile site.
you look smashing!
Thanks Amina! Though I think if it is so, its all due to Ben’s art! ;)
Thanks, I like the blog.
I found you because you linked to my optical illusions website, coolopticalillusions.com.
Kepp it up!
Anybody seen Kilroy? The bastard owes me money.
Thanks Scott, I love your page.
Serv, Kilroy is hiding under the bed ;)
This is a great site. I like the concept…..keep it up.
Thanks Julie, feeling is mutual and I’ve just bookmarked your site
Ann – your site is very helpful to me. I have been thinking much about geography, though I am not trained in it (I am a pastor in Iowa, USA) – especially how a) much world conflict seems to be over enforcing fictitious boundaries created for western advantage, and, b) lasting change seems to come not from governments (i.e., “top-down”) but from large numbers of people in transition who affect other people. Then, as a pastor, I watch Jesus demonstrating a) utter refusal of power over others and b) preferential relationships to those most dispossessed. All these things seem related, and all seem geographical in nature. So I’ll be reading along, hoping to learn. Thanks! I’m linking to you – hope you are OK with that. Found you through ronchof and Forever Under Construction. Your mix of humor and optimism reminds me of radical American historian Howard Zinn – you might enjoy my post that quotes him at To live now as we think humans should live in defiance of all that is bad around us
Thanks for coming by Monte, I am honoured by your comment. I also read your post on Howard Zinn with great interest and will link to it as well as your site. He’s a real gem, and for me personifies the best in what is radical (which for me, goes back to the Latin etymology of the word for ‘root’ — symbolizing going to the heart and soul of the matter in question.
As a personal aside, my family name is Arabic for “the priest”, its literal translation. So from the (symbolic) priest to the (real-life) pastor, welcome, and pleased to know you!
Hey, Ann, you put a BIO!!!… Mmmhhhhmmm, very very very interesting. Now, much more better and interesting, … now I see you are made of flesh and bones… And the caricature from Benjamin Heine is great also. Congratulations again. I like this place, you keep a good equilibrium point that I like and envy. Hugs! (and more hugs).
Wherever I go, not only Kilroy was there, but now Rochonf, and Monte!
Just saw this new BIO, it is very interesting. What makes your site so interesting, beside all the accurate information, is your welcoming good temper and humor.
Thank you dear friend/sister :)
Homeyra, comment appreciated and I am honored to have you as a valued friend and Forever Under Construction as a Sister City site. Rochonf has been a blog buddy for awhile now, his was the first comment on this page. I am grateful to him for providing constructive criticism. Hugs back ;)
I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I think you’re doing some great work here. I hope to be able to contribute to the global anti-imperialist movement when I’m done with college, and work such as yours is a great encouragement.
You’re now on my blog-roll, so expect some traffic from South Asia. :P
Thanks for your appreciated comments, Kronstadter, and I am sure your contribution will be a worthwhile one. You’re now also on the blogroll, and feel free to come by and comment again.
As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve frequently reposted your video posts on Throw Away Your Telescreen. I was wondering if you’d be interested in joining as a contributor and cutting out the middleman with some cross-posting in future? Let me know and I’ll send you an invite.
Keep up the good work here, in any case.
Thanks Dave, and I’ve emailed you re TAYT
I discovered your blog on DesertPeace’s blogroll… great content! You may be interested in my own site: http://www.harmonicminor.com – I am an American graduate student currently conducting research in the Gaza Strip. I have been posting excerpts from interviews and other material relevant to Gaza… Today, for example, I posted an interview with noted academic and journalist, Jennifer Loewenstein.
I will link to you – perhaps you can do the same if you like my site!
Keep up the good work!
Hi, I was reading your review of Fisk’s book and bits of your excellent website and I thought you might be interested in a book i have written on Iraq. Its a comic book, and if you are insightful enough to know that comic books can tackle serious issues then please check it out, thanks:
Boychild Books, publishers of titles such titles as Manga Mover and The Japanese Drawing Room have teamed up with activist UK charity War on Want to make a documentary comic book IRAQ: OPERATION CORPORATE TAKEOVER, written by Sean Michael Wilson, art by Lee O’Connor.
War on Want – http://www.waronwant.org – have been involved in fighting poverty and injustice since 1951. Roughly in the vein of Joe Sacco or Marjane Satrapi, Iraq: Operation Corporate Takeover is a grass roots look at how corporations like Bechtel and Halliburton are exploiting the situation in Iraq for their own ends. Its deals with issues like the pressure of oil companies on Iraq and the terrible behaviour of Private Military and Security Companies as a private military force. Based on the extensive research and on the ground contacts of War on Want, we see how a young Iraqi man, Nazem, explores the situation in his country, and searches for a positive way to do something about it!
The book was launched on 6 November 2007 in the London ICA event COMICA. It is available via Diamond Distributors December 2007 Previews catalogue, Code: DEC07 3504 , under the listing for Boychild Productions.
Also from the and Boychild Books websites: http://www.boychildproductions.co.uk
I know that you are really busy these days, but … you are tagged! (only if you feel like).
In your opinion what are the six things that one should do before turning 18?
Rules of the game
well feed me nails and call me rusty!
how did you get audio up there???? i can’t do it at all!
love the artistic interpretation of you btw. very funky!
( this time from other people *wink*)
Hey, great to see you here, m8. :) If its an mp3 hosted somewhere you just insert the code thus:
[ audio=http://nadyatisagreatfriend.com/audio.mp3 ]
Obviously that’s a made up link, so just insert the link where it is hosted and remove the spaces between the brackets.
This code will embed the player for you.
Alternatively, you can upload it to Odeo and ‘point it’ to your recording there. Go to Odeo.com, register and upload. The code to insert should be found there, if not give me a bell.
The portrait-caricature is tres cool, ain’t it? Thanks to superlative Belgian artiste Ben Heine. Check out his amazing, stellar work at http://www.benheine.com and blog at http://benjaminheine.blogspot.com. He’s got excellent political cartoons as well.
First off, you have a wonderful web site, which I just found. Thank you so much for it!
Second, you might want to post these:
In addition, you should feel free to post any of my writings if you’d like to do so, which you can access by putting my name in the search bar with “our site” button clicked.
Third, you might want to add a few of these to your links set for the ones that are not already on them (especially http://www.worldproutassembly.org, http://www.globalresearch.ca/, http://palestinechronicle.com/ and http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/).
Last, although not least, thank you again for your terrific web site. It is first-rate!
Many thanks Emily, for your valued visit, kind words and thoughtfulness in posting these great suggested links. I’ll be sure to add them asap.
Dear Editors of Peoples Geography,
Let me, first, thak you for posting a number of my articles on your wonderfully unique site.
Secondly, I have written anothe essay on the controversy surrounding the so-called Peak Oil. But I do not know how to send it to you. Somehow I cannot find an e-mail on your site for this purpose–the essay is in Microsoft Word. Please advise.
Congratulations, Ann. Peoples Geography is recommended reading according to Columbia Journalism review. Good job and thank you for your great work.
Ann ! I know nothing but about the effort you are taking to be up to date in what you have mastered in. It fly high, cross borders acquiring the knowledge. True spirit !
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