One of the strongest responses that literature gives to placelessness is that the author’s homeland is writing, her soil is language, and her country is literature... Refugees waiting on borders and viruses without borders: They will largely shape our next idea of “place” (Gurbilek)*

In this week’s collaboration call, we will explore insights from critical works on “place” to understand and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as a transnational disaster.  Through this, we will examine recurrent representations of place in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, and discuss the need to intervene into these representations. Feel free to dive into the readings as you like, and annotate the questions listed below.

At the moment we tell a story about a place, we do not only talk about this place, but also re-create/make/produce it. In the last couple of months, within the context of COVID-19, we are told stories, for example, about how this disaster is governed across the world. We follow numbers in different places, in the United States, in South Korea, in Japan, in Costa Rica, in Turkey, and so on. How can we think of these places? (Geography? Nation? Country? Soils? Home? Territory?). What about other places like workplaces? … It is obvious that “place” does not just refer to a specific location. As a keyword, it is hard to define, and gets its meanings through collateral concepts such space… While unlearning and learning together why/how it matters to work on “place” as an analytic for research on COVID-19, we will be also thinking about placelessness, borders, refugees, more-than-humans, and so on.  

*Nurdan Gürbilek. 2020. İkinci Hayat. Istanbul: Metis (translation of the excerpt from Turkish by Duygu Kasdogan)

discussion questions

The questions to be addressed in this discussion include these: 


What insights from critical theorizing about place can inform current efforts to understand and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as a transnational disaster?

Question Set: TRANSNATIONAL FRAMING OF T-D-STS COVID-19 PROJECT (you are welcome to add questions to this set.)

Whether, how and what forms of spatial relations have changed at the moment of COVID-19 pandemic?

At which scales, how, and with which effects do places emerge as a story of “success”/“failure”/“belatedness” in the governance of COVID-19 pandemic?

What are the limitations of signifying governing models of COVID-19 pandemic at the national scale (e.g., “Korean model”)?

All of the items in this digital collection can be annotated using the question sets above above. Attach annotations to the item being annotated. See annotation instructions. 

!!! Please answer the questions by annotating the discussion essay here

To work in this digital workspace, you'll need to register if you haven't already -- through the link in the top right-hand corner here.  Email Kim Fortun (kfortun@uci.edu) or Duygu Kasdogan (duygukasdogan@gmail.com) for next steps.




FRIDAY, MAY 29, 8-9:30AM PDT

Theorizing Place and COVID-19

See time conversions.  Email Duygu Kasdogan for Zoom link (duygukasdogan@gmail.com).   


WimmerA GSchiller Methodological Nationalism and Beyond

Wimmer and Schiller critique methodological nationalism from multiple angles, examining the history of US immigration to make their case. Read more

Swyngedouw.2000.Authoritarian governance, power, and the politics of rescaling

"Spatial scale has to be understood as something that is produced historically; a process that is always deeply heterogenous and contested. If the capacity to appropriate place is predicated upon controlling space, then the scale over which command lines extend will strongly influence the...Read more

Swyngedouw.2010.Place, Nature, and the Question of Scale

On the politics of scale from a historical-materialist perspective with regard to the question of modernity, fascism, and capitalism.Read more

Roy.2009.The 21st-Century Metropolis

“The present paper argues that it is time to rethink the geographies of urban and regional theory. Much of the theoretical work on city-regions is firmly located in the urban experience of North America and Western Europe.”Read more

An interview with D. Massey on space

"Space is the dimension that cuts across all those stories; the dimension of our simultaneity, of multiplicity. What that means is that space is the dimension that presents us with the existence of “the other.” It presents me with the existence of those friends in Latin America. It is...Read more

Tsing.2005.Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection

"Attention  to  friction  opens  the possibility of an ethnographic account  of global interconnection.  Abstract claims  about the globe can be studied as they operate in  the world. We  might thus ask about universals not as truths or lies but as sticky engagements." Read more


Fortun.2012.Ethnography in Late Industrialism

"Ethnography must, then, create a space for deliberation, for worrying through, for creativity. It must stage encounters."Read more

Mah.2012.Industrial ruination, community and place

"The research discussed in this book highlights the impacts of deindustrialization on place-based communities (as contrasted with communities based on interest or identity), focusing on residential areas that are adjacent to sites of industrial ruination."Read more


Manzo&Perkins.2006.Finding Common Ground

This article unpacks the notion of "place attachment" within the scope of community participation in planning literature.Read more

More-than-human/Human Place

Friedmann.2007.Reflections on Place and Place‐making in the Cities of China

“… by being lived in, urban spaces become humanized. Places are different from landmarks and other buildings that the French anthropologist Marc Augé (1995) has called non-place spaces, such as airports, shopping malls, or hotels.”Read more

Massey.2005.Negotiating non-human/human place

The review essay of Hugh Raffles' book In Amazonia, which centers on the conceptualization of "place as ongoing negotiation."Read more