Geography 276:

Introduction to Political Geography

Winter Quarter 2015  sln 14804

Professor Michael Brown, Smith 416B,

Office Hours: By Email Appointment michaelb at...

Teaching Assistant: Julian Barr jubarr @ ...


Learning Objectives:

This course is a basic conceptual introduction to the study of politics from a geographic standpoint.  We will cover key themes and debates within political geography, as well as topics and places that political geographers have researched.  By the end of this course, you will come to appreciate the benefits of a geographical imagination in the study of politics, as well as the significance of the political to the study of geography.  You will have practiced how to relate theoretical and empirical phenomena to one another on your own.  Through assignments you will develop basic research skills of conceptualization, data collection, analysis and representation.   These outcomes reflect the belief that at second year, students should begin to appreciate the breadth of an academic field, as well as the competing ways of understanding what we study.  Geog 276 also provides a knowledge base for more advanced political geography courses and it will hone your reasoning, writing, and oral presentation skills for future seminars.


Course & Section Schedule:

Lectures: MWF 11:30-12:20 in Smith 304

Discussion Sections: check MyUW for updated list of sections & room assignments.


Readings: There is no required textbook for the course this year. Readings will be available through a Common Space

These readings may change, depending on the flow of the course. You'll be notified in advance, lecture, if this happens. Occasionally you will be asked to read newspaper articles for specific class discussions. These will be handed out in lecture and/or hotlinked from the syllabus.


First Assignment:  A geographical introduction of your hometown/region.   (10%): Due in Friday of Week 3 (Jan 23rd).

Second Assignment: Revised geographical description and Geopolitics have impacted your hometown/region/  (20%) Due Friday of Week 7 February 20th.

Third Assignment: Revised Previous two assignments plus State and Local Political Geographies of hometown/region, and Conclusion. (20%) Due Friday of Week 10 (March 13th).

The writing for this "W" course is done through 3 iterative research papers on your own hometown/region, applying what you have learned in class to your own geographies (and vice versa).  Discussion sections will be given over to helping you with the assignments, rather than reviewing lecture material.  The rationale for this writing assignment is a.) to increase student participation and ownership of the course, b.) to appreciate the scalarity and spatiality of political phenomenon, c.) to develop basic research skills using a variety of data and sources, d.) to develop critical thinking, rhetoric, and argument skills.

Final Exam (40%): Take Home Exam Please submit before 11:59pm on Wednesday March 18th. Late exams will be penalized by 10 points off their grade, per day of lateness.

Class Participation: (10%)

Participation means actively and constructively contributing to the intellectual goals of the course.    It includes doing in-class assignments, group discussion, asking and answering questions during lecture, and talking with the professor during office hours.  If you're not there, you can't be participating. 



All UW student codes of conduct apply in course lectures and sections.  An attitude of mutual respect and concern is expected of all participants in the course.  This course emphasizes active- not passive- learning. Excessive chatting, use of cell phones, websurfing unrelated to lecture, or reading newspapers during lecture is rude and inappropriate. You may not use any recording devices in lecture without my permission.

Plagiarism will be dealt with directly and harshly and reported to UW. Don't do it. If you are unsure, consult your TA immediately.  If we catch you, you will receive a "0" for that piece of assessment. 

Failure to attend class regularly will likely result in a failing participation grade.  If you need to miss class, it is your responsibility to get information on what you missed from a classmate, not from the TA or instructor.  Athletes must have written documentation and arrangements with the TAs in advance of any missed section/lectures/assignments etc.   No incompletes or "X" grades are given out for this class.  Missed work will be given a "0" in the calculation of grades.  We do not give make-up exams. In case of accident or emergency, please contact Prof. Brown and the TA as soon as possible. Contacting us late or after the fact may not work.

Disability Accommodation: Students should fill out the necessary paperwork before meeting with the TA to discuss these needs. We cannot make any accommodation without this paperwork. Please do this as early in the quarter as possible to avoid problems .

Late Assignments: One full letter-grade penalty per day will be levied on late work (i.e. an B+ drops to a C+ for being a day late), unless you have attached documentation-- and those rare exceptions will be decided on a case-by-case basis.  As a rule, it's always better to let us both know early or immediately if there's a problem, rather than waiting until the very end of the course, or after the fact.

Syllabus & Lecture-notes: The content on this webpage might change as the course proceeds. This reflects the need for flexibility in order to meet the goals of the course. Students will be informed of any changes in lecture.


Course Schedule & Readings


I. Politics, Geography, & Political Geography

Topic 1: The geography of politics & the politics of geography

Required Reading:

Knox, Paul and Marston, Sallie 2004 "The Geographer's toolkit" Human Geography: Places & Regions in Global Context. Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Brown, Michael 2011 "An introduction to geography,"  and Richard Morrill "An introduction to the department" in M. Brown & R. Morrill eds. Seattle Geographies. Seattle: University of Washington Press, pp. 11-15


II. Geopolitics

Topic 2: Classic Geopolitical Theory


Hudson, Brian 1972 "The New geography and the new imperialism: 1870-1918, Antipode, 9, pp. 12-19.

Ratzel, Friedrich [1896] 1996 "The Territorial growth of states" in J. Agnew et. al. Human Geography: An Essential Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Mackinder, Halford [1904] 1996 "The Geographical pivot of history" in J. Agnew et. al. Human Geography: An Essential Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell.


Topic 3: Recent Geopolitical Theory


Kaplan, Robert 2009 "The revenge of geography," Foreign Policy, 172, pp. 96-105.

Jones, Martin et. al. 2004 "The state in global perspective" An Introduction to Political Geography.  London: Routledge.

Cohen, Saul 2015 "The Cold War and Its Aftermath," Geopolitics: The Geography of International Relations. Langham, MD: Rowman Littlefield


III. Geographies of the State


Topic 4: The State & The Nation as Geographic Entities


Glassner, Martin 1996 "The territory of the state" Political Geography. NY: Wiley.

Mann, M. 2003 "The autonomous power of the state: Its origins, mechanisms, and results," in N. Brenner et. al. State/Space: A Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.

Dittmer, Jason 2010 "Narration of nation in Post WWII United States" Popular Culture, Geopolitics and Identity. Lanham, MD: Rowman Littlefield.


Topic 5:  The State & Its Internal Geographies


Pinch, S 1983 "The geography of collective consumption," Cities and Services (London: RKP Press).

Monmonier, Mark 2001 "What a friend we have in GIS," Bushmanders and Bullwinkles.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Webster, Gerry 2013 "Reflections on current criteria to evaluate redistricting plans, Political Geography 32, pp.3-14.


 Topic 6:  State Restructurings & Urban Political Economy


Jones, Martin et. al. 2004 "The state's changing forms and functions" An Introduction to Political Geography.  London: Routledge.

Brenner, N. Theodore, N. 2002 "Cities and the geographies of actually existing neoliberalism" Antipode 33 349-379.

MacLeod, G. 2011 Urban politics reconsidered: Growth machine to post-democratic city," Urban Studies 48 2629-2660. ____________________________________________________________________________

IV. Micro Political Geographies

Topic 7: Place & the Politics of Identity

Brown, Michael  2008 "Working political geography through social movement theory: the case of lesbian and gay Seattle," in K. Cox et. al. The Handbook of Political Geography. London: Sage.

Storey, D. 2012 "Territory and society," Territories: The Claiming of Space. 2nd edition.London: Routledge

Day, K. 2006 "Being feared: masculinity and race in public space, Environment & Planning A, 38, 569-586.


Topic 8: Bodies politics/political bodies

Gleeson, B 1999 "The regulation of urban accessibility," Geographies of Disability. London: Routledge.

England, K.; Dyck, I 2015 "Masculinities, embodiment and care," in A. Gorman-Murray and P. Hopkins eds. Masculinities and Place. Farnham: Ashgate.

Brown, Michael; Knopp, Larry 2010 " Between anatamo- and biopolitics: Geographies of sexual health in wartime Seattle," Political Geography 29, pp. 392-403.