Toward More Just Geographies

Photo of large old tree with many healthy roots by Brandon Green for Unsplash
Credit: Brandon Green for Unsplash

Photo of Marilyn Raphael by Ashley Kruythoff, UCLA

The end of the calendar year can be a time to take stock, to renew one’s vision for the future and to make plans. For me, making plans implies hope, hope for a better, happier year. My plan for this year revolves around Just Geographies.

In the coming new year, I look forward to welcoming our members to our hybrid meeting in Denver this March, the first AAG event in three years to have a strong in-person component. Already, nearly 5,000 participants have registered: more than 1,000 sessions with about 4,500 presentations in all.

So far, at least half of all sessions at AAG 2023 will address the meeting theme, “Toward More Just Geographies.” My presidential plenary will kick off the discussion early in the meeting, and I am working with AAG to create a participatory approach to exploring what it can mean to create a “Just Geography.”

In preparing for the Plenary, I talked about this with some AAG members. We realized that a Just Geography is not simply a condition or place, but rather a goal towards which we should work. It is also not spatially or temporally fixed, nor is it something that we can achieve and then move on. Rather, a Just Geography sits on the near horizon, something we envision and can work to get close to, together.

Because each of us has different ideas about what justness means to us, a Just Geography cannot have a single definition. We need to put our ideas together to arrive at a more meaningful description of what is necessary to achieve justness.

I invite you to send to the AAG your thoughts about how to define and attain a Just Geography.

To this end, I invite you to send to the AAG your thoughts about how to define and attain a Just Geography. This could take many forms, from a couple of sentences, to a meaningful quote and citation, to a short poem, or a short paragraph. Since we have talented mappers and visualizers among us, we invite visualizations of all kinds. We would like your permission to project these different meanings of a Just Geography in the room where the Presidential Plenary is held in Denver, and to share virtually to meeting participants who join us online. We are also looking into setting up a conversation space for sharing these throughout the meeting, a place that also invites people to stay and talk with one another.

Through this work, we seek to share the many different and changing perspectives that each of you can bring to the question of a Just Geography. We would like to encourage the most diverse and meaningful dialogue around this question and its possibilities that we can.

Over the next few months, please send your thoughts on what a Just Geography means to you to helloworld@aag.org, or share on social media using the hashtag #JustGeographies.


Please note: The ideas expressed in the AAG President’s column are not necessarily the views of the AAG as a whole. This column is traditionally a space in which the president may talk about their views or focus during their tenure as president of AAG, or spotlight their areas of professional work. Please feel free to email the president directly at raphael [at] geog [dot] ucla [dot] edu to enable a constructive discussion.

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