Mitch Rose

Dr, BA, Middle East History, University of Wisconsin, 1992 MA, International Relations, Syracuse University 1996 MA, Geography, Syracuse University 1998 PhD, Geography, Cambridge 2003

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Research interests

Negative Geographiesover the last two decades, contemporary cultural geography has championed the emancipatory potential of the affirmative. Drawing upon thinkers such as Nietzsche, Deleuze, Haraway, Spinoza, Latour, Negri and others, these ontologies emphasise creativity, relationality and a generative capacity imminent to a living world; a world whose nature is thought to be vital, open, plastic and becoming. My interest in the negative stems from those thresholds of living that withdraw from relationality and refuse to become. While conditions like hunger, disease, lethargy and pain can be understood through a lens of positive relationality, to do so misses something essential about their nature and the manner in which they shadow the problem of being a living being. This concern operates as a red thread throughout my work, whether it be on culture, governmentality, indigeneity, democracy or heritage landscapes in Egypt. 


The Question of Culture: I have a long-standing interest in rehabilitating the culture concept from its current condition of intellectual penury. The key problem with the way culture has been theorised is that it stood as a placeholder for the problem of difference. The aim of my work has been to emancipate the concept from these constraints by arguing that difference is essentially unknowable. While difference is an obvious and empirical fact of life, emerging and receding at various scales, the nature of difference itself defies explanation. Yet rather than seeing this as an obstacle to theorising culture, my work uses it as an invitation to think culture differently: culture not as an explanation for difference but as an elucidation of a phenomenon I term ‘claiming’. This project culminated in my recent monograph Dreams of Presence: a Geographic Theory of Culture (University of Toronto Press, 2024).



I am a cultural geographer with broad research interests in cultural theory, material culture and landscape. Over the last decade, I have become particularly interested in what might be called the existential dimension of social life. Drawing upon Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida and Zizek, my interest is in exploring the existential conditions that lacerate, subvert, and incapacitate human willing; conditions which cannot be equated with nor resolved by relations of power but nonetheless profoundly shape social phenomenon, events and spaces. This interest has distilled into a number of distinct but related strands of research which I describe below. 


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