DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES
As a specialization, world geography is nearly nonexistent. That does not mean that no one is doing world geography; there are obviously numerous texts on the subject, and many times as many courses. What it means, though, is that no one is doing world geography after studying it explicitly. Not to say that current efforts at world geography all fall short, but how often do scholars accept that expertise is acquired in a subject without first studying it? There are special considerations for global-scale study; the methods necessary for studying the entire world are as different from those for studying, for instance, nation-states, as those for studying nation-states are from the methods for studying cities. If a field like history can accept a world specialization, then surely geography — etymologically, the record of the world — can do so as well.
Geographic thought has a somewhat-broader acceptance as a specialization. My concerns within it are far from the avant garde, though. Regionalization is an antiquated concern, and my research is specifically revisiting concepts that were of interest to the discipline many decades ago, and long since calcified and forgotten. But decades is too long for a concept to coast on the acceptance of the past.
PhD, geography, University of California Los Angeles, 2013
Dissertation: Parallel worlds: empirical region and place
Advisors: John Agnew, Michael Curry, Stephen Bell, and Martin Lewis
Regionalization is the process and the result of dividing the world into regions, where ‘region’ is generic for any two-dimensional segment (however defined) of the Earth’s surface. A region can vary in scale as appropriate; it may be the size of a city block in some cases, a continent in others. My research, within regionalization, has focused on the contrast between conventional and empirical regionalizations in human geography. In world geography several conventional regionalizations have been influential; the primary convention in my work, and the dominant influence on most thematic regionalizations, is the country model, in which “countries” (or “nations”), often taken as identical to members of the United Nations, are used as background for academic studies and often as the basis for studies. My dissertation was, of course, a continuation of the research for my master’s.
MS, geography (GIS), Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, 2009
Global human regionalization often depends heavily on conventions, especially the country model. Standardized “countries” are used as default regions, and influence other regionalizations as well. Proposed here is the preference for multiple independent systems of regions based on empirical criteria specific to each field of inquiry. These regions, defined by attributes of the landscape, would subsume formal and functional regions alike, as well as the very similar “trait geographies” and “process geographies”. Two specific inquiries are studied, politics and language; in both cases, existing data tend towards the conventional. A primary empirical regionalization for politics can be based on effective government control. A primary empirical regionalization for language can be based on mutual intelligibility of vernacular dialects. Examined in political geography are concepts of juridical and empirical statehood and the question of state territoriality; examined in linguistic geography are the question of language versus dialect and the standard reference ‘Ethnologue’.
BA, generalism in world affairs, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, 2004
This first detailed examination in my academic career dealt with global processes of integration and disintegration, political, cultural, and economic, institutional and noninstitutional. These themes formed the basis of the method that I am still developing; many of the important larger regions that feature in my present work emerged here.
As a generalist, I am naturally interested in general linguistics, but my main focuses have been grammatology (or writing systems), native names, and phonology. The products of these interests are:
While my political writings are varied (see below), my political research focuses on establishing the empirical governmental situation in the world, both in terms of the power structures present and the spatial extent in which they operate. A rough map shows the physical extent; it, and a corresponding list, link to individual pages for each state, or governmental region. There I have explicitly stated whether the government in question is democratic, and who controls it. These are empirical facts that are often treated as matters of opinion and dispute, when they are clearly not; academics and journalists in particular have a responsibility to get the facts right. When an autocrat declares himself the victor of a rigged “election”, he has not been elected, and we shouldn’t state that he has. When a person is nominally “head of government” but holds little real power, we should not call that person the head of government. If an organization does not control a particular part of the world, we should not say that it does.
My work as an essayist has slowed down considerably in recent years, as academic writing and research have consumed more of my time. But a substantial archive of my past writings is available, dealing with a variety of subjects in world affairs and politics. I would hope that my point of view is consistent, since I find that so frequently lacking in commentary of the present. I consider myself a liberal and a cosmopolitan, but as such, I want freedom for all individuals, not just for those individuals fortunate enough to have been born in the West. What we have in Western politics is a choice between those who want increased freedom for those at home, but tolerate or even support oppression abroad in the name of non-interference and multiculturalism, and those who want to liberate those who live abroad but deprive our fellow citizens of social rights and civil liberties.
Though I am a proud citizen of Earth, and will admit to being an Anglophone, a Yankee, and a Hoosier as well, the region of my origin, as I identify it, lies between the Great Lakes and the Ohio and Mississippi rivers — the Midwest. My hometown, on the Wabash river, is West Lafayette, the northwestern quadrant of the Lafayette urban region. I was born in Fort Wayne in 1970, and lived in two other Hoosier cities as a child. As an adult, I spent seven years in Indianapolis, five years in Columbus, and a summer in Chicago, all in my home region, as well as five years in Los Angeles, three years in Atlanta, and a year in Missoula and Salt Lake.
Unused skills fade, but I was, for a time, a registered paramedic, holder of a fully-endorsed commercial driver’s licence, and capable of operating bulldozers and front-end loaders and repairing cars and small engines and machines. All of this was a response to my self-perception of being incapable of operating outside of a library. I still believe that a well-rounded education must be more than just bookish matters, and that those who are experts in the physical and outdoors skills, which I never was, deserve our respect.