Workshop ‘Critical geography and new materialism’ – A first documentation

The Forschungswerkstatt Kritische Geographie/Critical Geography Research Workshop took place in Berlin this year, june 14-16 – and we participated with a workshop entitled “Critical Geography and New Materialism”. To our surprise there was a huge interest in the workshop – we had to change the room for the salon to be able to host all the participants. As a first round of questions showed that many were generally interested, but did not have a lot of pre-knowledge, we started with a basic introduction: What is ‘critical geography’ about? And what is ‘new materialism’?

We then split into three groups who worked each about one question:
1. How can the approaches of ‘new materialisms’ can be used in a productive way within critical geography?
2. Which problems may arise combining these approaches with critical geography?
3. Which theoretical, methodological and empiric examples exist that can be used or combined for a “critical new materialism”?
After a very productive group work session we came back together to present our results to each other – realizing that many point from all three groups related to siminlar, cross-cutting topics, among them:
– problems of dealing with hierarchies and power relations that are central to critical geography in these new materialist approaches
– the question of how to attribute responsibility
– how to go beyond the merely descriptive, ‘singular-case’ perspective of many new materialist studies, how to combine these with systemic or comparative approaches, related to questions of scale

There was no time to address all theses issues in detail – but we also collected a range of of examples that could be used to discuss these issues further – from within geography, but also from related disciplines and fields like anthropology, urban studies and planning, environmental history, feminist STS or sociology.

As there was a huge interest among many of the participants to discuss these questions further, we decided to continue working on the topic. We have set up a mailing list to coordinate further actions –  feel free to subscribe if you are interested. You find a photo documentation of the working groups below. Thanks to all the participants for the great discussions and hope to see you soon at the next meeting!

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