Koch book offers new approach on the geopolitics of spectacle
In her recently published book, Natalie Koch, associate
professor of geography, introduces a new, expansive methodology for analyzing spectacle,
governmentality, and urban space. The
Geopolitics of Spectacle: Space, Synecdoche, and the New Capitals of Asia (Cornell
University Press, 2018) draws from Koch’s extensive work on Central Asia, the
Arabian Peninsula, and Southeast Asia to evaluate how autocratic rulers use
spectacular projects, such as “lavishly built landscapes and celebrations,” to govern
and legitimate their power.
Unlike previous studies of spectacle, which focus on
spectacular projects themselves, Koch’s book invites readers to consider not
only the spectacular, but the unspectacular as well. Through an in-depth case study
of the Kazakh capital of Astana, Koch develops numerous comparisons between
Astana and other spectacular capital cities. From Ashgabat (in Turkmenistan) to
Naypidaw (in Myanmar), The Geopolitics of
Spectacle locates and identifies the different unspectacular spaces and
social experiences, from small villages to resource extraction zones, that make
the spectacular both intelligible and meaningful. The result is a book that not
only offers new empirical insights about various spectacular cities, but also
promises a fresh theoretical approach to analyzing spectacle.
Koch, also an O’Hanley
Faculty Scholar at the Maxwell School, is a leading scholar in political
geography whose research focuses on resource-rich states in Central Asia and
the Arabian Peninsula. At Maxwell, Koch serves as the faculty coordinator for
Asia and the Caucasus Research Group.
Her awards include the
prestigious Meredith Professors Teaching Recognition Award (from Syracuse
University) and Maxwell’s Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for Outstanding
Teaching and Research. In addition to numerous journal articles, Koch has
previously edited and published a collected volume titled Critical Geographies of Sport: Space, Power, and Sport in Global
Perspective (Routledge, 2017).