CFP AAG 2017: More than lines on a map? Rethinking neighborhoods and regions

American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting // April 5–9, 2017 // Boston, MA

Organizers: Taylor Shelton (University of Kentucky) and Ate Poorthuis (Singapore University of Technology and Design)

The concept of ‘neighborhood’ has long held a conspicuous place within geography, and the social sciences more broadly. Unlike other spatial delineations, the neighborhood has rarely had the kind of surety that characterizes juridical categories like the city or the state, or various kinds of statistical geographies used to gather and analyze social data. Instead, the definition of neighborhood has alternately served as a way of reproducing racial and/or class segregation and stigmatization, allowing for a greater sense of place among urban residents, or characterizing the differences in everyday spatial mobilities between different groups of people. And yet, our individual and collective understandings of what constitutes a neighborhood have important ramifications for both how we move through, interact in, and produce space, and how we attempt to analyze these processes as geographers.

This is reflected in the wide variety of neighborhood approaches within the discipline. From early quantitative geographers focused on constructing both ‘formal’ and ‘functional’ regions to more qualitative and behavioral approaches looking at cognitive maps and perceptions of neighborhoods, geographers have long been interested in how best to delineate one neighborhood from another. More recently, scholarship on neighborhoods has focused on so-called ‘neighborhood effects’, with a parallel body of critical work emerging that instead looks at the socio-political production and contestation of these neighborhoods. The neighborhood concept undoubtedly remains both elusive and central to geographic scholarship, as well as to our everyday lives.

This session invites papers that seek to challenge and rethink, rather than reify, the received spatial categories that inform our understandings of neighborhoods in different contexts — including those that explore a broadened definition of the neighborhood beyond its conventional sub-urban scale (e.g., the ‘region’ as a kind of neighborhood). We are particularly interested in bringing together work on neighborhoods from across the discipline — putting quantitative, qualitative, empirical and theoretical approaches into conversation with one another. Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:

· New quantitative and algorithmic approaches to neighborhood delineation

· Speculative ‘re-drawings’ of neighborhoods and regions

· Comparative analyses of competing neighborhood boundaries (administrative vs. statistical vs. cognitive, etc.)

· The effects of neighborhood boundaries on social life

· Changes in neighborhood/regional identity and perception

· Historical studies of neighborhood boundaries

· Epistemological and ontological implications of neighborhood boundaries

· Theoretical approaches to the concept of neighborhood

Interested participants should submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to both Taylor Shelton ( and Ate Poorthuis ( by October 15, 2016.

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