AAG Announces 2021 Book Awards 

The AAG is pleased to announce the recipients of the three 2021 AAG Book Awards: the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize, the AAG Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography, and the AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography. The AAG Book Awards mark distinguished and outstanding works published by geography authors during the previous year, 2021. The awardees will be formally recognized at a future event when it is safe to do so. 

The John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize

This award encourages and rewards American geographers who write books about the United States which convey the insights of professional geography in language that is both interesting and attractive to lay readers. 

Profiting from the Peak book coverJohn Harner, Profiting from the Peak: Landscape and Liberty in Colorado Springs

(University Press of Colorado, 2021) 

John Harner’s Profiting from the Peak: Landscape and Liberty in Colorado Springs triumphs as an accessibly written, wonderfully illustrated historical geography of a distinctive American place. Dedicated to Peirce Lewis, the book explores how Colorado Springs profited from its singular physical setting as well as its highly distinctive cultural evolution. Laced with dozens of grayscale and color maps and photographs, Harner brings to life a landscape shaped by various forces which are engagingly summarized in nine thematic chapters. 

Harner describes the shaping power of Grass, Water, Air, Metal, Rock, Fun, War, Liberty, and God as he crafts his historical narrative, taking us from Native hunters on the short-grass plains to twenty-first century evangelists who envision the place as a Front-Range crucible of conservative politics. Harner concludes this lovingly crafted and beautifully designed book by arguing that the Springs’ special sense of place derives from its physical setting, its vibrant downtown, and from the unique cultural values of its population. 

The AAG is pleased to recognize John Harner with the 2021 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize.

The AAG Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography

This award is given for a book written or co-authored by a geographer that conveys most powerfully the nature and importance of geography to the non-academic world. 

Atlas of the Invisible book coverJames Cheshire and Oliver Uberti, Atlas of the Invisible

(W.W. Norton & Company, 2021) 

James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti’s Atlas of the Invisible is a stunning collection of maps and visualizations that tells the stories of our past, present, and future – turning massive datasets into inviting, intriguing, and sometimes disturbing presentations for both geographers and a broader audience. The volume displays the expertise of Cheshire in geographic data analysis and Uberti in cartography, addressing a wide range of topics from historical geography and climate change to geopolitics and social justice. Compelling essays explore myriad ideas and debates in the discipline: the history of mapping from Alexander von Humboldt to GIS, the power of mapping from redlining and gentrification to lead poisoning and air quality, the ethics and use of mobile phone data – even the role of data and mapping in a crisis as the approaching pandemic turned the abstract and invisible into the present and deadly. 

This is a book that geographers everywhere will recommend to non-geographers with pride. The authors hope that their work will move us from being simply spectators: “We hope that at least one of our stories will have inspired you to act.” Little doubt of that, and little surprise that this volume is scheduled for translation into nine languages. A far broader audience will become happily lost in what Cheshire and Uberti have found.

The AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography

This award is given for a book written by a geographer that makes an unusually important contribution to advancing the science and art of geography.  

Dear Science and Other Stories book coverKatherine McKittrick, Dear Science and Other Stories

(Duke University Press, 2021) 

Dr. Katherine McKittrick’s Dear Science and Other Stories is the recipient of the 2021 American Association of Geographers’ Meridian Book Award, which recognizes a book published in the past year that makes an unusually important contribution to advancing the art and science of geography. 

Dear Science presents incredibly rich conceptual and methodological contributions for researchers in human geography and beyond. This innovative book traces how multiple forms of Black scholarship, art, and indeed, Black life, move through and beyond the straits of knowledge systems co-constituted with and emergent from white supremacy. It compels the reader to contend with their own spatial praxis through a concerted meditation on metaphor and memory and advances current debates in geography by introducing insights from a broad range of archives and interdisciplinary voices. 

McKittrick’s writing on the forms of productive and destructive erasure that confront Black geographies will become necessary and likely transformative reading for scholars within and beyond the discipline. 

The AAG is pleased to recognize Katherine McKittrick with its 2021 Meridian Book Award. 

The 2021 AAG Meridian Book Award Honorable Mention 

Palm Oil Diaspora book coverCase Watkins, Palm Oil Diaspora: Afro-Brazilian Landscapes and Economies on Bahia’s Dendê Coast (Cambridge University Press, 2021) is an exemplary piece that is certain to withstand the test of time. The longstanding influence of the author’s academic lineage extending from Sauer to Parsons, Denevan, Turner, Doolittle, and Sluyter is evident in the work. Moreover, through the integration of previously uncovered evidence, this book offers new perspectives and raises questions concerning the impact of racism and colonial ways of knowing on academic scholarship. 

The Radical Bookstore book coverKimberley Kinder, The Radical Bookstore: Counterspace for Social Movements (University of Minnesota Press, 2021) presents a new paradigm emerging in American geographic thought that is oriented toward social justice. Splendidly written, The Radical Bookstore not only offers a glimpse behind the scenes of a unique type of establishment that seeks to bring voice to marginalized peoples and perspectives, but it also challenges scholars to explore social movements through the lens of constructive activism.