‘Dark Nazi Geographies’

I’m reading through Trevor Barnes’ and Claudio Minca’s new paper in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers on Carl Schmitt and Walter Christaller at the moment (available – only through subscription – here). Carl Schmitt’s received a lot of attention from political geographers over the last few years mainly due to Giorgio Agamben. Christaller on the other hand has mainly escaped popular attention. That is unless you’ve considered his ‘central place theory’ of human settlement recently. He also happened to be a member of the Nazi Party and served in Konrad Meyer’s Planning and Soil Department. Both formed, say Barnes and Minca, either side of a darkly geographical coin. Schmitt central in ‘deterritorializing’ German invaded lands (Poland, Czechoslovakia etc.) and removing peoples of ‘impure’ origin; and Christaller in ‘reterritorializing’ these lands with ‘legitimate’ German peoples.

What makes this paper a little darker for myself was that I was taught Christaller’s Central Place Theory in A Level Geography, and I don’t recall us being given a lowdown on his murky connections. In fact, I even loosely based my final coursework on his work, albeit in the rather anodyne context (declining service provision in rural North Yorkshire).

This might give me an incentive to re-read a little Agamben, or, more to the point, address the state of the A Level Geography curricula!

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