CANCELLED. Book Talk. The Geopolitics of Spectacle: Space, Synecdoche, and the New Capitals of Asia by Natalie Koch

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room, 1219 International Affairs Building (420 W 118th St)





Please join us for a talk with Natalie Koch, Associate Professor of Geography and O'Hanley Faculty Scholar at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, about her book, The Geopolitics of Spectacle: Space, Synecdoche, and the New Capitals of Asia (Cornell University Press, 2018).

Spectacle has not been extensively theorized by geographers, despite their longstanding interest in its role in political, cultural, and urban geography. Focusing on statist spectacle, Natalie Koch outlines a geographic approach that treats it as a political technology and asks: who uses it, for whom, and when and where? To move beyond the prevailing “then and there” approach to spectacle, Koch argues for a grounded approach to asking “when and where” spectacle unfolds that also accounts for the unspectacular spaces, effects, and experiences that represent spectacle’s Others. Doing so effectively entails examining the deeply contextual spatial imaginaries that are required to give spectacle meaning. The trope of synecdoche, Koch suggests, is key to understanding the logic of spectacular urbanism. Through a cross-regional empirical study of recent capital city development schemes in Central Asia (Astana, Baku, Ashgabat), the Arabian Peninsula (Abu Dhabi, Doha), and East Asia (Naypyidaw, Bandar Seri Begawan), Koch shows how synecdoche, as a spatial metaphor, can divert attention from the multiple ways that spectacle’s unspectacular Others are expressed and scaled in each region.

Natalie Koch is Associate Professor of Geography and O’Hanley Faculty Scholar at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She is a political geographer focused on geopolitics, nationalism, and state theory in post-Soviet Central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. Dr. Koch explores alternative sites of geopolitical analysis such as sport, spectacle, urban planning, and other allegedly positive expressions of state power. She is currently working on a project about renewable energy and ‘knowledge-economy’ development in Qatar and the UAE, where she will be a Fulbright fellow in Spring 2019. She is editor of the book, Critical geographies of sport: Space, power, and sport in global perspective (Routledge, 2017).