Intervention – "Doing Public Geography, Making Scholarship Public"

Guillermo Delgado, School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, University of Cape Town

Victoria Habermehl, School of Geography, University of Leeds

This intervention will explore an attempted contribution to understanding public scholarship, and its relevance for radical geographers today. By collectively mapping experiences and examples of different forms of public scholarship, at the Institute of Geographies of Justice in Durban, June 2013, we were able to identify collective similarities and potential problematics of what it might mean to be public geographers or make geography public. Using a structured map to facilitate our discussion allowed us to visually represent our different projects–helping identify commonalities, as well as forcing us to question normative assumptions about the meaning of “public”. Through subsequent reflections, using examples of “publics” from IGJ participants, we engaged with: different ways of understanding the public; how publics are created; counter-public narratives; tensions between activism and the academy; what a public geographer might look like; and how geography could be made more public. We hope to address how we go about producing radical, engaged research and how this might function in practice.

October 2014


(1) Neoliberalizing and counter-neoliberalizing forms of publicness

(i) “Nothing about us, without us, is for us”

(ii) Active and passive publics

(iii) Neoliberalizing and counter-neoliberalizing public scholarship

(2) Personal activism and public scholarship: cultural and theoretical aspects

(iv) Theoretical colonialism

(v) Personal activism and unitary public conditions

(vi) The artificial separation between “scholarship” and “actual interventions”

(3) The production of “the general public”

(vii) Who is excluded and included in “the general public”?

(viii) Language within and across fields

(4) Radicalizing scholarship: embedding the public and the collective into a unitary, renewed, contemporary, and socially-relevant practice

(ix) Individual and collective scholarship

(x) Public scholarship “deliverables”

(xi) Radicalizing scholarship

(5) The projects

(A) Urban Union

(B) Superstorm Research Lab

(C) Informal Economy Monitoring Study

(D) Washington Inter-City Self-Help

(E) La Región de Los Lagos post-crisis del virus ISA

(F) Ending mandatory detention campaign

(G) Delhi Urban Ecologies

(H) Home Economics