This lesson provides a key conceptual foundation for applying your critical thinking skills throughout the rest of the course. Let me forewarn you that the critical interpretive framework below is somewhat complex. I encourage you to study both the lesson and the readings carefully.
I discovered in graduate school that ways of understanding the world are almost always politicized. Much of what we are going to examine in terms of power relationships, the socially contested construction of meaning, and discursive formation is often associated with politically liberal, left leaning academics. Many of these academics would happily describe themselves as "dissident intellectuals" who seek to challenge the status quo of the conservative establishment. Many intellectuals working in government might be described as "establishment intellectuals." In my early graduate student experience, I was disdainful of these "ivory tower" liberal intellectuals and their ideas. After all, what did they know of the real world? As I got a little older and wiser, I changed my mind. These ideas are powerful aids to critical thinking. Whether you agree or not with the obvious bent of the textbook authors, focus on how they challenge the conventional and historical wisdom and shed light on these topics. Again, you do not have to agree with their analysis, but you must do your own analysis and evaluation, be prepared to defend it, and be open to at least considering new ideas and/or other people's ideas.
By the end of this lesson you will be able to:
- Discuss new approaches to social and cultural geography including: communication of meaning, production and affect of discourse, human subjectivity and identity, the critique of geographic knowledge, and operation of human agency.
- Discuss and critique the framework that envisions politics as a social practice.
- Explain and critique the critical framework that looks at the world in terms of material, discursive, and socially contested construction of meaning.
- Provide an example of a socially constructed meaning and explain the example and concept to a layperson (e.g. "Teenager").
- Explain the basic concepts of "Critical Geopolitics" to a layperson; apply the concepts to given case studies.
- Trace the evolution of geopolitical thought from the 19th Century to the present; critique selected concepts from an alternative perspective.
If you have any questions now or at any point during this week, please feel free to post them to the GEOG 882 - General Discussion Forum in Canvas.