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GEOG376 Geographies of Contestation, Action and Change

Geographies of contestation and action and how groups from the local to global scales have initiated processes and practices to create alternative, more sustainable and equitable futures.

Contestation and social and environmental action are fundamental parts of a democratic society. Democratic ideals ensure that power is not abused; that equality, freedom and justice are core tenets of everyday life; and that basic needs are met. In this sense, democracy is understood in its traditional sense of 'power to the people'. Yet somehow, in contemporary society that seems idealistic. This paper will provide students with a critical understanding of the nature of contestation and action across scales and the opportunities and constraints that groups face in seeking a more equal and sustainable world in real political terms.

Paper title Geographies of Contestation, Action and Change
Paper code GEOG376
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,038.45
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,492.80

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GEOG 280 or 108 points of which at least 18 points must be at 200-level
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
May not be credited together with GEOG379 passed in 2014.
Teaching staff
Course Co-ordinator: Dr Sophie Bond
Teaching Staff: Dr Doug Hill; Professor Tony Binns
Paper Structure
This paper is organised into three parts: the foundations of critical geography; the neoliberal present; and spaces of contestation, action and change. The paper explores how neoliberalism has shaped central aspects of our social, political and economic lives, as well as shaping how we think about different spaces - Aotearoa/New Zealand, urban spaces and nature. It considers how what we've called the neoliberal present has shaped opportunities for contestation and how the nature of these spaces of contestation are conceptualised by critical geographers.

Drawing on a range of case studies from around the world, the paper will explore the role of civil society and social movements in creating spaces for change. In addition, we will explore how indigenous groups have claimed spaces to demand their sovereignty and autonomy within the context of ongoing processes of colonial and neoliberal global relations.
Teaching Arrangements
Lectures and tutorials.
One full-day symposium (a Saturday), at which attendance is compulsory.
Textbooks are not required for this paper.

Readings are selected from a range of sources, including journals, books and edited collections. A reading list will be provided at the beginning of term, with most readings available through eReserve via Blackboard.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
This paper is organised to achieve four objectives - namely, to enable you to:
  1. Understand the history and place of critical thought in human geography
  2. Demonstrate the relevance of critical geographies in contemporary examples of contestation, action and change (with a particular focus on neoliberalisation in Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  3. Understand and apply key concepts in geographies of contestation, action, social movements and indigeneity to real-world examples from the local to the global scales
  4. Engage with and apply these concepts to the activities and struggles of local community groups

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 13:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41
Thursday 13:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Saturday 09:00-14:50 33


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Monday 12:00-12:50 29-30, 32, 34, 37, 39, 41
T2 Monday 13:00-13:50 29-30, 32, 34, 37, 39, 41
T3 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 29-30, 32, 34, 37, 39, 41
T4 Tuesday 12:00-12:50 29-30, 32, 34, 37, 39, 41
T5 Tuesday 13:00-13:50 29-30, 32, 34, 37, 39, 41