Course Description

Course Name

Geographies of Contestation, Action and Change

Session: VDNS3122

Hours & Credits

18 Credit Points

Prerequisites & Language Level

GEOG 280 or 108 points of which at least 18 points must be at 200-level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


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.

Course Structure
This course is organised into three parts:
-Part I: The foundations of critical geography
-Part II: The neoliberal present
-Part III: Spaces of contestation, action and change

Part I (weeks 1?3) situates the broader topic of geographies of contestation and action within human geography as a discipline. Starting with a broad overview of the context to and effect of what might be called the critical turn in human geography, we will explore the core theoretical lenses that critical geographers have used. We look at how these lenses shape the kinds of questions and issues that critical geographers explore.

Part II (weeks 4?6) builds on these foundations by looking at the way in which critical geographers have used the lenses discussed in Part I to explore 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. Finally, it considers how what we've called the neoliberal present has shaped opportunities for contestation.

Part III (weeks 7?12) then considers the nature of these spaces of contestation and how critical geographers have conceptualised them. Drawing on a range of case studies from around the world the final and largest part of 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 soveriegnty and autonomy within the context of ongoing processes of colonial and neoliberal global relations.

Learning Outcomes
This course 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

*Course content subject to change