This research project looks at two intertwined processes in the history of North American and German geography from the early 20th century to the 1970s. First, the shifting hegemonic relations between “theory-importer” United States and “theory-exporter” German human geography, in which a formerly peripheral US geography triumphed over its German counterpart and became hegemonic after WWII; second, this shift was connected to the post-WWII quantitative revolution in US and Canadian geography during the 1950s and 1970s, in which the discipline became a mathematical and rigorous Cold War spatial science. This project follows a transnational historical perspective in the historical geographies of scientific knowledge to look at how geographical knowledge circulated and interacted between North America and Germany. It does so by analyzing the influence and circulation of German geographical knowledge and location theories, most notably central place theory in urban and regional planning, which became a paradigmatic theory of Cold War geography internationally, and later re-influenced German geography from the late 1960s from the US. The research project is based on archival research and career path interviews with scholars connected to the quantitative revolution.
17 April 5:30 PM
Department of Sociology
26 Nichol Ave
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Why was Hungary interested in the decolonized “developing world”? What does this episode of Eastern European history tell us about shared postcolonialities, transnational interconnectivity, and semiperipheral positioning or development strategies? My talk introduces why and how socialist Hungary decided to develop foreign economic relations with decolonized countries, which in turn facilitated a new orientation towards the world and the emergence of Hungarian development expertise towards developing countries.
My study investigates the Centre for Afro-Asian Research (CAAR) founded at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1963 (in 1973 renamed as the Institute for World Economy, IWE) parallel to similar institutions founded internationally at that time. CAAR was established as a government think tank by József Bognár, who was a close friend to Prime Minister János Kádár and a hugely important figure in socialist era Hungarian reform economics and foreign economic policy-making. The associates of CAAR and IWE promoted export-oriented growth and fabricated new geographical development concepts as alternatives to the dichotomous Cold War categories of “capitalist” and “socialist” worlds in order to reposition Hungary in the world economy. The institute evolved out of the “Ghana job”: during his Eastern European round-trip president Kwame Nkrumah asked Bognár and his team of economists to develop the First Seven-Year Plan of Ghana in 1962.
During the Nkrumah period, the pan-Africanist, African socialist and Non-Aligned country of Ghana became a transnational hub of various experts and intellectuals, and a contested site not only of conflicting and intertwined “socialist” and “capitalist” views on development, but also of intensive cooperation and competition between Eastern Bloc countries in asserting their influence in the decolonized world. With Bognár’s assignment, the issue of “poorly developed countries” ignited the comparative reconceptualization of development histories in Hungary and led to exporting the Hungarian development model to the “Third World” based on the discourse of anti-imperialism, socialist solidarity and shared postcolonial histories.
In this context, I interpret the “Ghana job” from a postcolonial and world-systemic perspective as situated in a complex web of transnational relations, and point out Ghana’s decisive role in opening semiperipheral Hungary towards the global periphery during the 1960s by generating a field of development expertise, which enabled entrance into a new market of transnational development consultancy.
Download flyer (.pdf).
Why is the decolonization of the history of modern science and technology important? So that we can understand why Francis Bacon’s iconic title page image of a European caravella navigating through the pillars of Hercules in his book Instauratio Magna (Great Instauration, 1620) or Novum Organum Scientiarum (“new instrument of science”), which indicated the new program for modern empirical (colonial) scientific development, was actually taken from Andrés García de Céspedes’s book, Regimiento de navegación (Madrid, 1606). This shows the Northwestern European (Dutch, British, German), Protestant hegemonic shift, which stigmatized the downfall of “luxurious”, “inefficient”, “rapacious”, “unindustrialized”, “state-led capitalist” Spain, the Iberian or Southwestern European imperial-colonial project, against the “industrial revolution” and “scientific revolution” of the Northerners, the latter of which the image became a symbol. The deconstruction of this narrative is important in revealing the concealed global histories of colonial scientific and technological development, which was partly a precondition for the development in the new hegemonic centre in Europe. The South American decolonialist approach might be an important influence in decolonizing Eastern European knowledge production, since the Northwestern-Atlantic-Protestant narrative of scientific development, largely present in social scientists’ work such as Max Weber or Karl Marx, was dominantly diffused in Eastern Europe as our Eurocentric understanding of global scientific and economic development. I was educated according to this narrative already in primary school. This story will be included in my chapter on decolonizing Eastern European history of science and technology in the book Technosciences of Post/Socialism planned to be published somewhere in 2018.
Just discovered Ousmane Sembène, one of the founders of (black) African cinema. One of his movies, Ceddo (1977) presents the relatively undiscovered historical topic of the Islamization of black Africa, the conflict of Islam and Christianity intertwined with ethnic relations, traditional values, and the slave trade. It was banned in Senegal.
The Pickers shows a group of Romanian migrant workers at a UK strawberry farm who alternate their intensive strawberry picking with the editing and mediation of a 20th century film archive of British migrant hop pickers. Sited in a parallel reality distinctions are blurred as to where and when events are set, as they are between notions of labour and leisure, and the identity of an archive and its dissemination. ‘The Pickers’ becomes a dream; a Romanian advertisement to British migrant workers to come to Romania.
Maja and Reuben Fowkes wrote about this film in Art Monthly:
“A curious prequel to recent developments could be seen in Adam Chodzko’s insightftul 2009 film The Pickers, which addressed the nuances of economic migration by following the story of a group of young Romanians working in the strawberry industry in Kent. The scenario revolves around young East European labourers engaged in editing archive footage of seasonal hop pickers from the East End and reflecting on their own experience ofworking on a state-of-the-art agricultural plant in Kent. Scenes of men, women and children worhng together in the outdoors while blithely chatting away appear idyllically stress-free in comparison to the depersonalised, high-tech world of industrial market gardening, where every action of the labourer is scanned and calculated. In a moment of reverie, the Romanian worker-editors imagine a future in which the British would be attracted to make the reverse journey to work on Romanian farms, where the importance of workers’ relationship to the land and the social quality of labour are not yet extinct notions.”
You can read about the event and all later conferences on wikipedia.
“The ‘All-African Peoples Conference’ (AAPC) was partly a corollary and partly a different perspective to the modern Africa states represented by the Conference of Heads of independent Africa States. The ‘All-Africa Peoples Conference’ was conceived to include social groups, including ethnic communities and anti-colonial political parties and African organizations such as Labor Unions and other significant associations in the late 1950s and early 1960s both in Africa and the Diaspora such as Europe, North America and South America.
The first conference was preceded by a Preparatory Committee composed of representatives from the eight independent African states—other than South Africa. (They were Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Arab Republic.) The conference itself was attended by delegates from 28 African countries and colonies. The number of delegates was more than 300, and the conference claimed that they represented more than 200 million people from all parts of Africa. Tom Mboya, General Secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labour, was elected chairman.
One important discussion was over the legitimacy and desirability of using violence against the colonial powers. It was agreed that violence would be necessary in some cases. Concerning the struggle in Algeria, full support was given to the recently proclaimed Provisional Republican Government (Gouvernement Provisoire de la République Algérienne—GPRA). On the Cameroon, the Conference supported the fight of the UPC maquis, demanding full amnesty and UN-sponsored elections. The Conference considered unity and solidarity to be key strategies in the fight against colonialism and economic domination after colonialism; it called for the establishment of Africa-wide organisations, including trade unions youth groups, and a Bureau of Liberatory Movements. It was at this meeting that the decision was made to establish a permanent secretariat at Accra. The first secretary-general was George Padmore, then living in Ghana. The following year, he died and was replaced by Guinea’s Resident Minister in Ghana, Abdoulaye Diallo.”
On November 14, I will be holding a lecture and seminar in the frames of a lecture series about sustainable development in Central and Eastern Europe at Kaposvár University in Hungary.
The critical geographies of scientific knowledge and urban policy mobilities
Why and how do theories and policies travel? Who are involved in mobilizing and adapting them to local contexts and interests? What social groups do they affect and who benefits or gets disadvantaged? This class aims to encourage students to engage critically in these questions by introducing literature on the geographies of scientific knowledge and urban policy mobilities. These approaches argue that theories and policy models spread through transnational networks of communication, and their production and dissemination are conditioned by their sites, spaces, scales and circulations of operation. Increasing globalization has led to “fast policy”, “mobile urbanism”, and a global market of expertise and policy models in urban development, which called forth a relational view of cities against “cities-as-territories”.
The class first provides an overview of some considerations in analyzing historical, geographical, sociological and political aspects in the production of scientific knowledge, such as the notions of “truth spots”, “invisible colleges”, “gatekeepers of knowledge”, “scientific provincialism”, “travelling knowledge”, or the politics of translation. Second, we turn more specifically to the global circulation of urban policies, by showing the social and ideological contexts of the policy-making process, the politics of policy knowledge production, and the processes of policy circulation and adaptation. Third, after revising some popular examples of urban development models and their scientific legitimation, we focus more concretely on deconstructing the highly debated “creative city” concept.
By presenting a critical stance towards “successful” policies, “best practices” and policy branding, the class offers students tools to discover the uneasy dynamics between scientific knowledge and policy-making, and helps them develop their critical interpretative skills in understanding how development discourse and policy-making affects their urban environments.
Suggested reading for the class:
Peck, J. (2005): Struggling with the Creative Class. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(4): 740–770.
Livingstone, D. N. (2003): Putting Science in its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
McCann, E., Ward, K. (Eds.)(2011): Mobile Urbanism: Cities and Policymaking in the Global Age. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.
Peck, J., Theodore, N. (2015): Fast Policy: Experimental Statecraft at the Thresholds of Neoliberalism. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.
Cook, I. R., Ward, K. (2011): Trans-urban Networks of Learning, Mega Events and Policy Tourism: The Case of Manchester’s Commonwealth and Olympic Games Projects. Urban Studies, 48: 2519–2535.
Gonzalez, S. (2011): Bilbao and Barcelona ‘in motion’. How urban regeneration ‘models’ travel and mutate in the global flows of policy tourism. Urban Studies, 48(7): 1397–1418.
Jacobs, J. M. (2012): Urban geographies I: Still thinking cities relationally. Progress in Human Geography, 36(3): 412–422.
Larner W., Laurie N. (2010): Travelling technocrats, embodied knowledges: Globalising privatisation in telecoms and water. Geoforum, 41: 218–226.
McCann, E. J. (2008): Expertise, Truth, and Urban Policy Mobilities: Global Circuits of Knowledge in the Development of Vancouver, Canada’s ‘Four Pillar’ Drug Strategy. Environment and Planning A, 40: 885–904.
McCann, E. J., Ward, K. (2010): Relationality/Territoriality: Towards a Conceptualization of Cities in the World. Geoforum, 41: 175–184.
McCann, E. J. (2011): Urban Policy Mobilities and Global Relational Geographies: Toward a Research Agenda. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101: 107–130.
McCann, E. J., Ward, K. (2014): Exploring Urban Policy Mobilities: The Case of Business Improvement Districts. Sociologica, 1: 1–20.
McCann, E. J., Ward, K. (2015): Thinking Through Dualisms in Urban Policy Mobilities. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39(4): 828–830.
Oancă, A. (2015): Europe is not elsewhere: The mobilization of an immobile policy in the lobbying by Perm (Russia) for the European Capital of Culture title. European Urban and Regional Studies, 22(2): 179–190.
Peck, J., Theodore, N. (2010) Mobilizing policy: Models, methods, and mutations. Geoforum, 41 (2010) 169–174.
Pomfret, R., Wilson, J. K., Lobmayr, B. (2009): Bidding for Sport Mega-Events. School of Economics. Working Paper Series, 30.
Prince, Russel (2010): Globalizing the Creative Industries Concept: Travelling Policy and Transnational Policy Communities. The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 40: 119–139.
Ward, K. (2005): Entrepreneurial urbanism and the management of the contemporary city. The example of Business Improvement Districts. Transnational Seminar Lecture Paper, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Center for Global Studies.
Ward, K., Cook, I. R. (2012): Conferences, informational infrastructures and mobile policies: the process of getting Sweden ‘BID ready’. European Urban and Regional Studies, 19: 137–152.