ANNOUNCEMENT: 2021 IAG/NZGS Conference theme: “Remembering, reimagining geography”


20th November 2020
By Phil McManus

The 2021 IAG/NZGS Conference theme: “Remembering, reimagining geography”

The 2021 combined Australian and New Zealand Geography Conference will take place at the University of Sydney from 6 July – 9 July 2021 on the stolen, unceded lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.

Traditional ownership of lands, waters and skies of  contemporary  Australia is the foundation of First Nations Peoples’ continuing sovereignty since before colonisation. Acknowledging Indigenous ownership of this continent is especially important given the long and controversial history of Geography as a colonial discipline.  If geography is the science of “writing about the earth”, then the history of geography is inherently a history of many voices, chiefly that of Indigenous Peoples. Yet in Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand and elsewhere, Indigenous geographies have been systemically appropriated, undervalued and actively disrupted, a process often promoted by and recorded through the study of geography. 

2021 marks the centenary of the first university geography program in Australia at the University of Sydney. While Geography, in and beyond Sydney, is a dynamic discipline - with the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘who’ changing markedly over time - more structural changes are needed. Who gets to write Geography? Whose Geographies are written? Under what conditions? And what Geographies are ultimately produced and accepted?

Reckoning with this fraught history requires surfacing the discipline’s imperial foundations and establishing new infrastructures of geographical knowledge that promote equitable relations between diverse humans and non-humans. The conference theme of Remembering, Reimagining Geography is offered as an opportunity to critically consider how geography evolved the way it did, its influences on human and more-than-human worlds, and the contribution the discipline can make to more just and sustainable futures. It is also an opportunity to remember and engage, from our different positions and places, the already existing life-sustaining systems of governance and legal orders of Indigenous sovereignties. With its foci on the construction of spatial relations and the intersections of humans and the natural world, geography sheds distinctive light on the challenges to understand and respond to the multiple, entangled crises and ontologies of the twenty-first century.  This conference will provide a space to ask questions, share knowledge and ideas, celebrate achievements and imagine alternative futures within an agenda to “re-imagine the earth” in ways that promote plural and transformative geographies and acknowledge ongoing First Nations sovereignties. 

Given the current health context and our ability to meet and engage in ways not previously possible, the format of the 2021 conference is a hybrid online conference combined with in-person events. We wish to foster the discipline and the communities that support geography in ways that are safe, inclusive and fun. We understand that many of us miss the face-to-face social interaction but also that the health context varies across the world and that further changes are likely.  We welcome you to join us in your preferred format for a combined Australian and New Zealand conference that remembers and reimagines geography for a better future.

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