Archive for the 'conferences' Category



Next week I’ll be at the North American Cartographic Information Society’s (NACIS) wonderful Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs. I’ll be showing a map (see the teaser above), participating in a panel, and giving a talk about the software I co-wrote to produce the above map:

Friday, October 21 • 10:40am – 12:00pm

Critical Cartography, Critical Data: Confronting New Forms of Geospatial Information

Spatial data, of one form or another, inform, shape, and define our everyday lives and choices. Generated through a host of quotidian acts, such as credit card purchases, smartphone application use, and surveillance systems, spatial data is increasingly and continuously fed into massive data systems that collect, aggregate, and analyze it in powerful, new ways. Access to and use of such data demarcates the limits and possibilities of cartographic visualization, shaping world views and popular imaginations. How we see the world through the mediation of cartographic images of spatial data has tremendous impacts on how we perceive ourselves and how we act in the world. In this panel, we ask what it means to confront, to contextualize, and to question spatial data and cartographic representation in the myriad of forms they take. How can we differentiate between the multiple subject positions that constitute a given map? What are the historical precedents for today’s conceptions and practices of data? What is the value and what are the implications of doing so for critical cartography as praxis? Drawing together academics and practitioners, the panel addresses not only what it means to think new forms of data and their representation, but also what it means to act with said data.

Jim Thatcher, University of Washington-Tacoma
Craig Dalton, Hofstra University

Susan Schulten, University of Denver
Ladona Knigge, California State University Chico
Jessica Breen, University of Kentucky
Luke Bergmann, University of Washington
Nick Lally, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Friday, October 21 • 2:00pm – 3:30pm, Rethinking the Map Session

Introducing Geographical Imagination Systems
Luke Bergmann, University of Washington
Nick Lally, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Spatial theory in human geography often describes space as situated, dynamic, processual, relational, and contingent, suggesting non-Euclidean topological theories for grappling with the complexities of space. How, then, can cartography contribute to bringing these spatial imaginaries to fruition without reinscribing an understanding of space as a static, empty container waiting to be filled with points that precisely locate discrete objects within it? In this talk, we present a prototype of a Geographical Imagination System (GIS)–a web-based interface that encourages the interpretative construction, collision, and collaging of relational and absolute spaces. Our software prototyping both draws from and extends work in cartography, moving past the limits of familiar software packages, and opening up new possibilities for cartographic work and understandings of space.


Calls for papers for the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers (April 5-9, 2017 in Boston, MA) have been circulating online and there are a bunch of them! I’m happy to see a number of sessions focus on software, technology, and/or digital objects in a number of different contexts. I have listed all of the ones I know of below. Please let me know if I have missed any and I will add more as I come across them.

Click on the title for the full call:

digital \\ human \\ labour
“this call is for papers exploring specifically the various intersections of ‘digital’, ‘human’ and ‘labour’.”

Urban-economic perspectives on technology
“In this session we seek to bring together papers focussed on the topics of urban and economic geography that take up critical perspectives on technology.”

Cities & Data Beyond Smart Urbanism
“We… invite empirical and theoretical contributions that conceptualize and/or extend current perspectives on the co-articulation of data and cities beyond narratives of smart urbanism.”

Real Estate Technologies: Genealogies, Frontiers, & Critiques
“We seek papers which address discursive and/or material relationships between technology, broadly defined, and real estate in its many forms.”

Curating (in)security: Unsettling Geographies of Cyberspace
“In calling for the unsettling of current theorisation and practice, this session intends to initiate an exploration of the contributions geography can bring to cybersecurity and space.”

Is another smart city possible? Sharing cities and the urban commons in a digital age
“We welcome papers addressing these themes in general, or with reference to specific urban commons including: open data commons, open source apps, community wifi, alternative energy, housing, food sharing, transportation (bike share, ride share), public spaces, community gardens, planning, PPGIS etc.”

Mobile bodies, technologies and methods: critical perspectives
“The focus will be on how these technologies can be engaged with by critical geographers to bring new perspectives to their analysis of everyday embodiment.”

Robotic futures
“What does the growing integration of robots and robotic technologies into everyday life do and/or mean for the theorization of sociospatial relations?”

Data Infrastructures, Nature, and Politics
“This session explores the making and un-making of data infrastructures by which conservationists and corporations – as well as development practitioners, scientists, and state planners – generate scaled, uneven, and actionable knowledge about the environment.”



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The schedule is out for the series of sessions Ryan Burns and I have organized for the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers in San Francisco, March 29-April 2, 2016. All sessions are on March 30th in Union Square 16, Hilton Hotel Union Square, 4th Floor:

Toward a Geographical Software Studies 1: Political economy and infrastructures
Wednesday, 3/30/2016, from 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM

Laura Beltz Imaoka (University of California, Irvine), The Immaterial Value of Proprietary Software: Platforming ArcGIS

Ashwin Jacob Mathew (University of California, Berkeley/Packet Clearing House), Protocol as a Fieldsite

Till Straube (Goethe University Frankfurt), Seeing Like a Stack

Will Payne (University of California – Berkeley), What’s in a (Neighborhood) Name? Location-Based Services and Contested Delineations of Place

Discussant: James Thatcher (University of Washington – Tacoma)

Toward a Geographical Software Studies 2: Language and tools
Wednesday, 3/30/2016, from 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM

Matthias Plennert (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg), Analyzing the hidden backbone of an open-data-project: a genealogy of the OpenStreetMap data model

Warren SACK (University of California – Santa Cruz), Out of Bounds: Language Limits, Language Planning, and Linguistic Capitalism

Luke R. Bergmann (University of Washington), Speculative computing: toward Geographic Imagination Systems (GIS)

Pip Thornton (Royal Holloway, University of London), The Production of Context and the Digital Reconstruction of Language

Discussant: Cheryl Gilge (University of Washington)

Toward a Geographical Software Studies 3: The visual and control
Wednesday, 3/30/2016, from 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM

Craig M. Dalton (Hofstra University), Seeing with Software: Mobile device users’ geographic knowledges

Aaron Shapiro (University of Pennsylvania), The Surface of Things: Google Street View, Computer Vision, and Broken Windows

Louise Amoore (Durham University)

Teresa Scassa (University of Ottawa), Mapping Crime: Civic Technology in the Emerging Smart Cities Context

Discussant: Clare Melhuish (University College London)

Toward a Geographical Software Studies: methods and theory
Wednesday, 3/30/2016, from 5:20 PM – 7:00 PM

Elvin K. Wyly (University of British Columbia)

Pip Thornton (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Daniel G. Cockayne (University of Kentucky)

Keith Woodward (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Monica Degen

Discussant: Matthew W. Wilson (Harvard University)

Session Description: A growing body of recent geographic scholarship has focused its attention on software and algorithms. Some of these studies analyze geographic technologies —GIS and the geoweb, for example— as such, while others investigate a myriad of digital technologies that have become ubiquitous within the spaces of everyday life. These software/code objects interact with and modulate the world in complex ways, enact processes that connect humans and nonhumans, and become entangled with social, cultural, political, and economic systems. Moreover, software created to visualize data is used to produce knowledge about urban environments and everyday life, but obscure the processes and contexts which underlie its development. Engaging these topics, geographers have developed concepts like the “automatic production of space” (Thrift and French 2002), “software-sorted geographies” (Graham 2005), and “code/space” (Kitchin and Dodge 2011) to describe how software and space are co-constituted in the contemporary world. Productive research is building on these topics to explore new ways geographies are produced (Rose, Degen, and Melhuish 2014), governed (Amoore 2011), materialized, represented (Woodward et al. 2015), and lived through software (Kinsley 2014).

This session seeks to bring together a range of spatial thinkers who are producing new studies, theories, and methods for understanding and producing software. We welcome submissions that address all facets of software: the context of its production, its internal operational logics, the material work it does in the world, and its spatial distribution of social and political effects.

Sponsorships: Geographic Information Science and Systems Specialty Group
Cyberinfrastructure Specialty Group
Political Geography Specialty Group



A fetus “testifies” in the Ohio legislature via ultrasound (From

Later this week, I’ll be in Denver to participate in the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Annual Meeting. On Thursday (4:00 to 5:30pm, Denver Sheraton, Plaza Ballroom D), I will be presenting a paper co-authored with Jennifer Denbow that outlines some of our recent research on ultrasound. Our abstract reads:

Developments in ultrasound software continue to produce new representations of bodily interiors, profoundly influencing medical, popular, and political understandings of pregnant bodies. While numerous feminist STS studies have explicated the importance of the resultant images, none have examined how legal regulations and economic interests interact with software production to produce these images. In this paper, we examine the development of ultrasound software through interviews with computer programmers, technical documentation, academic articles, and federal regulations. We explore how three different academic ultrasound laboratories conceptualize their work in relation to regulatory frameworks. These three sites, and the researchers within, are part of complex assemblages that influence the design choices and assumptions that go into producing ultrasound software. Through an examination of the technical and regulatory frameworks, as well as the software that laboratories produce, we argue that the regulatory and economic structures affect what software is produced and thus what images are possible. Thus, we argue that the production and use of ultrasound software is co-constitutive with legal regulations, economic interests, and understandings of reproductive bodies.

I haven’t gone through the program closely yet, but someone pointed me to a panel titled “Make Kin Not Babies: Toward Feminist STS Pro-Kin and Non-Natalist Politics of Population and Environment,” which looks fantastic. It includes contributions from Donna Haraway, Adele E. Clarke, Michelle Murphy, Kim TallBear, Alondra Nelson, and Chia-Ling Wu (Thursday, November 12, 10:30am to 12:00pm, Denver Sheraton, Governor’s Square 15). The abstract reads:

Feminist STS scholarship has long and richly addressed biogenetic reproduction, focusing on race, region, sexuality, class, gender, and more. However, feminist STS has also largely been silent about reducing the human burden on earth while strengthening ecojustice for people and other critters as means and not ends. Can we develop anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, anti-racist, STS-informed feminist politics of peopling the earth in current times, when babies should be rare yet precious and real pro-family and community politics for young and old remain rare yet urgently needed? How can we develop collaborative politics recognizing that peoples subjected to (ongoing) genocides may need more children? How can we intervene in the relentless glut of attention devoted to problematic, costly “rights” and “needs” for (mainly richer) women to have babies as an individual “choice”?

Questions: How to nurture durable multi-generational non-biological kin-making, while humans everywhere transition to vastly less reproduction? What alternative ways of flourishing can be nurtured across generations and across cultures, religions, nations? How to deter on-going anti-feminist population control efforts while generating innovative discourses that legitimate non-natalist policies and choices? How to promote research on forms of contraception women and men want (and can use under diverse circumstances) and reproductive services that actually serve? How to build non-natalist kin-making technologies and sciences in housing, travel, urban design, food growing, environmental rehabilitation, etc.?

Where are the feminist utopian, collaborative, risky imaginings and actions for earthlings in a mortal, damaged, human-heavy world? Why hasn’t feminist STS taken the lead in such fundamental endeavors?


On Thursday at 10:30am, I will be talking about maps and art at the Annual Meeting of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS). My abstract read:

Remapping Spatial Sensibilities
In a number of recent articles, scholars have drawn connections between cartography and the visual arts. These connections are usually confined to questions of aesthetics and representation, eschewing larger conceptual and historical connections. In this paper, I deploy Jacques Rancière’s concept of the “distribution of the sensible,” which he uses to describe how art changes what we are able to perceive. Using a number of maps as examples, I use this concept to trace a history of cartography concerned with changing understandings of space. This periodization, I argue, suggests a path forward for cartographic work concerned with developing new spatial cognizance, or using Rancière’s terms, re-distributing what is spatially sensible. This path, informed by art theory, opens up exciting new possibilities for cartographic work to exist as an independent knowledge-producing practice, intersect with theories in human geography, respond to the current moment, and produce new representations of space.

The conference schedule looks excellent and people keep telling me good things about past meetings, so I’m excited to be participating.