Gary Fields

Associate Professor


"Landscapes of Occupation: Photos from Palestine"


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


My research focuses on geographical landscapes as representations and instruments of power, and the practice of “territoriality” which refers to the power of human agency to influence patterns of development in a place by asserting control over a geographical area.  The question at the core of my work is: 

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 dominant groups to control subalterns in this process of transformation? 

Through comparative case studies from past and present, I argue that the use of power to reshape landscapes is an historically enduring phenomenon in the making of modernity, present in both major routes to the modern world, capitalist development and nation-building. 

My book, Territories of Profit (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 and Dell Computer, is a territorial project, the outcome of corporate power to rearrange elements on the land, and reorganize the behavior of other actors in the profit-making environment.  

My new work focuses on the interplay of power and landscape in Palestine.  In this project, I compare the fractured landscape of dispossession in Palestine to the landscapes of the British Enclosure Movement in the 18th century, and the 19th century American Frontier.  I argue that the geography of fragmentation and dispossession in Palestine continues a longstanding pattern of territoriality.  In this pattern dominant groups, inspired by new discourses about property rights and entitlement to land and backed by the state, re-imagine the landscape and recast its socio-economic, demographic, and physical character to fit this imagined vision.

At the core of my work is a commitment to theoretically-driven, actor-centered accounts of power and processes of transformation.  My work seeks to build a theory and critique 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.


Territories of Profit: Communications, Capitalist Development and the Innovative Enterprises of G.F. Swift and Dell Computer (Stanford University Press, 2004).

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