David is an associate professor (docent) of human geography and director of graduate studies, and is a US citizen (now also with Swedish citizenship) with roots on Åland. Previous to coming to Uppsala in 2007 he taught at Vassar College in New York State. He received a PhD in human geography from Pennsylvania State University in 2005, and his research focuses primarily on geographic identity. His teaching is primarily in the areas of political geography and planning.
Academic merits: PhD, Docent
My first university degree is in psychology (Cornell University, 1989), and my understanding of the world has been shaped by this psychological perspective ever since. When I eventually did a master's (2001) and PhD (2005) in human geography (Pennsylvania State University), it was with a focus on identity, and the ways in which we psychologically negotiate sameness and difference in the West.
I have served in various administrative roles in the Department of Social and Economic Geography here in Uppsala, and am currently the director of graduate studies.
My research agenda has been primarily focused on understanding how geographic identities are produced through spatial and discursive processes. My first research project investigated the relationship between Southern identity in the US and American national identity. My intention was to develop a spatial theorization of the concept of internal orientalism through applying this framework to the case of the "America"/"the South" binary in US discourse. My master's thesis considered the "voice of the Self" in the discourse of internal orientalism in the US, by examining representations of the South in journalism, scholarship, and popular culture. My PhD dissertation went on to examine the "voice of the Other" of internal orientalism, or more precisely, the "voices of the Others." I conducted interviews with two groups, representing the Others of internal orientalism: black Southerners in the Lynchburg, Virginia, area, and members of the (virtually all-white) Southern nationalist organization the League of the South. The interviews revealed how both groups both resist and reinforce the essentialist binary of internal orientalism through their conceptualizations of "Southern" identity.
My second project brought me to Scandinavia in 2007. I was invited to participate in a study of migration from the Åland Islands to Sweden and the Finnish mainland. Åland is an autonomous, Swedish-speaking province of Finland, an archipelago in the Baltic between Sweden and Finland. This project was financed by Ålands självstyrelses 75-års jubileumsfond, Kulturfonden för Sverige och Finland, Svenska kulturfonden, William Thurings stiftelse, Stiftelsen Margit Althins stipendiefond, and Stiftelsen Emilie och Rudolf Gesellius fond. I conducted interviews with Ålanders who moved to Sweden or the Finnish mainland as adults. I explored issues of language, culture and belonging, with a particular emphasis on the sense of in-betweenness that most Ålanders associate with Ålandic identity. In 2010 I produced a museum exhibition for Ålands Museum to report the results of this project for the government and public of Åland.
In recent years I have begun studying the relationship between automobility and the Swedish folkhem. I have also looked at the concept of exceptionalism from the U.S. and Swedish perspectives.
Other interests include visuality and antiwar protest (with an article published in ACME), place branding (having published an article on place branding and racism on Åland), and sports geography.
Current PhD students: Doron Eldar, Peter Jakobsen, Marcus Mohall, Hanna Zetterlund.
Former PhD students: Madeleine Eriksson (Umeå University), John Guy Perrem, Erik Hansson, Dominic Teodorescu
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