AAG 2017: Landscapes of Humanitarian Expertise

Type: Call for Papers
Date: October 20, 2016
Location: Massachusetts, United States

American Association of Geographers 2017 Annual Meeting, April 5-9, Boston MA
Proposed Session: Landscapes of Humanitarian Expertise: The Built Environment Professionalism of Aid and Development
Conveners: Shawhin Roudbari (University of Colorado) and Sharóne Tomer (Virginia Tech)
From the (now defunct) Architecture for Humanity to Engineers Without Borders, recent decades have witnessed an emergence of endeavors by built environment professionals (architects, planners, and civil engineers) operating in the realm of aid and development. In these professions, the urge to ‘socially engage’ is not new.[1] However, the late twentieth century iteration of the modernist ‘social project’[2] is unique in its intersections with millennial goals for humanitarianism. The collision of contemporary developmentalism, increased frequency of natural disaster and politically-induced crises, and neoliberal projects of self-improvement have produced a situation in which built environment professionals deploy their expertise in expanded geographical and methodological contexts. Built environment professionalism increasingly gets staged as an avenue for humanitarian action, engaging with social and geographic sites that have historically been outside the realm of professional service. Through such expanded engagements, built environment professionals have the potential to both destabilize and solidify hierarchies of disciplinary expertise. This panel seeks to provide a conversation around the performance and ethics of built environment professionalism as it takes the guise of ‘humanitarian expertise’.
This panel invites papers that critically engage with the differing histories, geographies and conceptual underpinnings of ‘humanitarian expertise’ in the built environment professions. We hope to include papers that address architecture, planning, engineering and related sub-disciplines. We seek studies that are both transnational and domestic. We also seek a mix of papers that provide ‘case studies’ as well as theoretical and conceptual reflections. Our goal is to deepen a dialogue on the meanings of expertise as performed in different built environment professions, alongside the project of unpacking how such professions frame and address humanitarianism.
Please submit a 300-word abstract and brief CV to Shawhin Roudbari and Sharóne Tomer at shawhin@colorado.edu and stomer@vt.edu by October 20. We will notify authors by October 27.

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