What is GEM?

GEM will regularly assemble at Utrecht University to discuss topics on the intersection of media studies and critical geography, with a special focus on screens as navigational interfaces in urban mobile settings. Tied to the Charting the Digital European Research Council project and in cooperation with the University of Warwick and Manchester University, we aim to provide an inclusive platform to discuss interdisciplinary topics pertaining to this focus.

Academic Focus

Whether or not we wish to speak of a spatial – or spatiotemporal – turn, spatiality has both become a central theoretical concept in media studies as well as in critical geography. New urban interfaces, and in particular digital mapping, have prompted challenging questions about how spatialities can be epistemologically and ontologically understood and which theories, tools and methodologies are needed to understand our contemporary mediatized and mobile daily lives to their full extent. GEM aims to shed light on such questions by exploring the intersections of the different notions of space in different disciplines and traditions of thought, combined with the analysis of and reflection on cultural and technological practices. It wants to offer a platform for discussion, analysis and reflection on how we can approach and ‘do’ geo-media and urban interfaces and explore the essentials we need as researchers to engage with these research topics.

Who is it for?

Open to Ph.D. candidates and as well as other junior and senior researchers, we will occasionally incorporate guest lectures, workshops and master classes. Those who join are more than welcome to suggest their own workshops, reading material, research questions and/or methodologies.


First Meeting: Non-Representational Theory
Friday, November 15, Utrecht University 13:00-15:00, Muntstraat 2A, 1.11


Perhaps one of the most persistent notions in media theory is representation. Geographer Nigel Thrift suggests moving away from representation, towards the domain of practices and performativity. Combining the works of classic phenomenologists with Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, as well as science and technology studies (STS) and the political sciences, Thrift suggests a new approach to studying the everyday and the role of technology in it.

For this session we will read Thrift’s Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect (2007) and discuss how his thoughts and concepts relate to our own work.

If you are interested in joining this session and/or wish to be on the mailing list, please send an email to Nanna Verhoeff (


  1. Cheers Sam. The GEM group is mainly for a Dutch humanities audience that might not be as acquainted with Anglo-American non-rep approaches as the British hum geo audience is. Hence why the organizers have plumped for Thrift. I’ll look to bring Anderson, Ash, Paterson etc. into the conversation too. There’s some great work going on in the Netherlands within new media studies so this is great opportunity to do some bridging work.

  2. Interesting post. There are quite a few geographers that ‘do’ NRT (e.g. see: Anderson & Harrison Eds. “Taking Place”, and there are a few people that have significantly advanced work in non-representational geographies with a focus on technology – for example: Ben Anderson’s work on nanotechnology; James Ash’s work on video games; David Bissell’s work around transport and mobility; Beth Greenhough’s work on biotechnologies; Mark Paterson’s work on haptics and robotics; Emma Roe’s work on food technologies; Paul Simpson’s work on video ethnography; and there’s many more! Its great that you’re interested in non-rep in relation to the digital and I would thoroughly recommend exploring how non-representational geographies of technology are being explored by a growing number of researchers.

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