Gary Fields

Associate Professor

gfields@ucsd.edu

CV

"Landscapes of Occupation: Photos from Palestine"

Education

Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley (2002)

Research

My research focuses on geographical landscapes as representations of power and seeks to address a fundamental question: 

How do territorial landscapes communicate the power of dominant groups to reorganize patterns of material life, politics, and culture in particular places, and how does landscape itself become an instrument of force in this process of transformation? 

Through comparative case studies from past and present, my work reveals how dominant groups in different historical and geographical environments use power to remake landscapes as a platform for implementing their imagined vision of a modern society.

At the core of my research is a commitment to theoretically-driven, actor-centered accounts of power and processes of territorial transformation.  My work seeks build a theory of power and the development process by fusing geography, history, and political economy while maintaining a commitment to a scholarship of activism and critical engagement with the world.

Books

 

 enclosure_fields_small.jpg

My new book, Enclosure (University of California Press, 2017) compares the fragmented and partitioned landscape in Palestine to the landscapes of dispossession during the early modern enclosures in England and the Anglo-American colonial frontier. I argue that the seizure of Palestinian landed property by the state of Israel reflects an enduring territorial practice of enclosing land in which groups with territorial ambitions use power to gain control of land owned and used by other groups already anchored to the landscape. Inspired by a longstanding discourse about property rights and entitlement to “empty” land, such groups seeking territory re-imagine the landscapes they covet as empty, and justify their takeover of these landscapes by referring to themselves as improvers of empty land.    

 

territories-of-profit.jpg 

My previous book, Territories of Profit (Stanford University Press, 2004) reveals how the capitalist business firm uses force to reshape the economic and physical landscape in order to exploit the innovative potential of communications revolutions and make profit differently.  Capitalist development, I argue in comparing Swift Meatpacking in the 19th century and Dell Computer more recently, is a territorial project, the outcome of corporate power to rearrange elements on the landscape, and reorganize the behavior of other actors in the economic environment in an effort to create new routes to profit-making. 

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