Author-Critic Forum: The Geopolitics of Spectacle: Space, Synecdoche, and the New Capitals of Asia
Sarah Tynen (University of Colorado-Boulder)
Sarah Tynen
Alcoa Room
Start time:
26 October, 2018 at 14:15 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Long abstract:

In her new book, The Geopolitics of Spectacle: Space, Synecdoche, and the New Capitals of Asia (Cornell University Press 2018), Natalie Koch considers how autocratic rulers use "spectacular" projects to shape state-society relations. Koch uses Astana in Kazakhstan to exemplify her argument, comparing that spectacular city with others from resource-rich, nondemocratic nations in central Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, and Southeast Asia. The Geopolitics of Spectacle draws new political-geographic lessons and shows that these spectacles can be understood only from multiple viewpoints, sites, and temporalities. So rather than the standard approach to spectacle-focusing on the project itself-she considers the unspectacular "others." The contrasting views of those from the poorest regions toward these new national capitals help her develop a geographic approach to spectacle. Koch explicitly theorizes spectacle geographically and in so doing extends the analysis of governmentality into new empirical and theoretical terrain. With cases ranging from Azerbaijan to Qatar and Myanmar, combined with an analysis of views of Kazakhstan's new capital from the poverty-stricken Aral Sea region of Kazakhstan, Koch's book engages interdisciplinary scholarship in human geography, anthropology, sociology, urban studies, political science, international affairs, while pushing Central Asian studies into new "inter-Asian" comparative terrain.

The critics for this forum include scholars with diverse disciplinary backgrounds, including geography, political science, sociology, and architecture and urban development, and with extensive experience conducting research in Central Asia and the Caucasus:


Edward Schatz

Associate Professor

Department of Political Science

Chair, University of Toronto at Mississauga


Alexander C. Diener

Associate Professor

Department of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences

University of Kansas

Eric McGlinchey

Associate Professor

Department of Political Science

George Mason University

Diana Kudaibergenova

Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Sociology of Law

Lund University

Suzy Harris-Brandts

PhD Candidate, City Design + Development /International Development Group

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Department of Urban Studies and Planning