bodies in tension: reflecting

on entangled geographies

by spatial stories working group

Spatial Stories Working Group (SSWG) is a collective of PhD students who met at “Anthropology-in-Transit,” a conference hosted by the University of California Irvine’s (UCI) Anthropology Department. Our members include Prerna Srigyan (UCI, Anthropology), Kaitlyn Rabach (UCI, Anthropology), Marwa Bakabas (Michigan State University, Anthropology), and Shahab Albahar (University of Virginia, Urban and Environmental Planning). Our long-term objectives include organizing symposiums and curating exhibitions centered around “spatial stories,” as well as fostering a community for graduate peer-review and mentorship. Our conversations include themes of infrastructuring, archives, transient spaces, landscapes, anticipatory space, (re)mapping, affect theory, psychogeography, migration/refugees, war, trauma and traumatic spaces, monumentality, home, (il)liberalism, trace and space, and feminist geography.

In this contribution, through the concept of “entangled geographies,” our group challenges hegemonic ways of understanding the world as governed by Western logics. This contribution is a synthesis of narratives that links disparate geographies through shared experiences of the violences inflicted by nation-state logics of governance. The notion of border, borderland, and territory are interrogated by situated and contextual discourses that expose through praxis the underlying myths of what constitutes an edge or border condition. Below are four narratives, inspired by a workshop series we hosted this year, that begin to unpack our approach to “entanglement” in geography across four sites: Kuwait, United States-Mexico borderlands, Guantanamo, Cuba, and Mali.

Prerna Srigyan is a PhD student in Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. She works on science pedagogy and politics of collaboration in people’s science movements, focusing on transnational science and technology studies. She is the co-author of the book Atmosphere of Collaboration: Air Pollution Science, Politics and Ecopreneurship in Delhi (2021, Routledge).

Kaitlyn Rabach is a PhD student in Anthropology at the University of California Irvine (UCI).  Her current research explores the relationship between populist politics, late liberalism, and housing insecurity along the Irish and Northern Irish border. She is a 2021 UCI Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation Pedagogical Fellow and is also interested in collaborative pedagogies.

Marwa Bakabas is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University specializing in Global Urban Studies. Her work uses critical ethnography to explore the spatial implications of conflict, displacement, and trauma. She is interested in understanding the cultural nuances of ‘spaces of refuge’ through the practice of applied and public anthropology. Her current work looks at the lived experiences through the lens of displaced Yemenis.

Shahab Albahar is a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia. His research interests revolve around notions of social justice in the constructed environment. He studies spatial realities and practices of trans women of color in Washington, D.C. Shahab holds a Master’s in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University and dual Bachelor’s in Architecture and Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design.