Making my own shade in Petra, 2010

Shaul Cohen
Associate Professor, Department of Geography
Co-Director, Peace Studies Program
The University of Oregon
Carnegie Council Global Ethics Fellow

Department of Geography
Condon Hall 107G
1251 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1251
Telephone (541) 346-4500 Fax (541) 346-2067

This page serves as a gateway to basic information on my research and teaching activities at the University of Oregon. Please contact me or stop by if you are curious about any of the material included on the pages that are linked to it.  In addition to my primary work in the Department of Geography I am involved in a number of activities here and elsewhere.

My teaching is in Human Geography, particularly those topics related to the interface between environment, politics, and culture. Please follow the appropriate link to view a syllabus from one of my courses.

Research - greater detail can be found through this link, but in general terms...

According to the standard definitions used in geography, I don't fit cleanly into any one category. My work covers both political geography and political ecology, but is informed by historical and cultural elements that make it somewhat eclectic in relation to the typical interests of those groupings. At the heart of things, I'm interested in questions of power, and my approach is a critical one, pushing toward some "real world" outcomes that articulate with the nexus of social theories and questions of justice.  To date, I have conducted much of my research on elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with emphasis on land, territory, and environment. I have focused on issues in Jerusalem and the West Bank, concentrating on the politics of planning, territorial control, and issues of place and identity. This work is part of a broader study of ethno-territorial conflict, and I have a second field of focus in Northern Ireland.  My work in Northern Ireland concentrates in Derry/Londonderry and Belfast, and deals with various manifestations of identity and territory.  These projects are contributing to the development of a territorial framework, the "Riparian Model", which is outlined in an article I co-authored with David Frank in Political Geography (Vol. 21 no. 6, August 2002 pp 745-765)
and is discussed in somewhat broader form in our 2009 article in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers "Innovative Approaches to Territorial Disputes:  Using Principles of Riparian Conflict Management" 99(5):948-955.  A book on the town of Derry/Londonderry is currently in the works.

My work on afforestation developed into a broader interest, and I study tree planting, from political and cultural perspectives, around the world. In this work I take a critical approach, and examine the "spin" on politics and environment that is a central part of tree planting campaigns in Planting Nature:  Trees and the Manipulation of Environmental Stewardship in America (University of California Press, 2004).  For additional information and related websites, follow the link above to my research page. Details concerning my professional activities and background can be found on my CV.

A bit of poetry to capture a mood...

Birches, Revisited: October
At last the silver birches look like Frost,
archaic as he must have seen them
in Vermont. My nostalgia's not for him,
but for the alders, priests who skim
the granite on our hill at any cost,
passing judgments on the ridge, the hem
of malls and sturdy parking lots
I cringe past and use. Tainted emblems of our lust
for sultry trinkets. Bodies pay their fees
for breathing, and all our tortured writhing
soothes us on our way to heaven.
Spirits suffer anyway, each fall.
Sentimental trees - spindly, cold and tall -
birches stand in spite of us and poetry
that praises "nature" like a long lost friend,
we who drive for groceries, shoes, and pens.
-Ira Sadoff

Some powerful geographic metaphors from a speech given at the United Center in Chicago by Jesse Jackson in the summer of 1996.   Food for domestic thought:

What is our challenge tonight?  Just look around this place.  This publicly financed United Center is a new Chicago mountain top.  To the south Comisky Park, another mountain top.  To the west, Cook County Jail.  Two ball parks and a jail.  In that jail mostly youthful inmates, 80 percent drug positive, 90 percent high school dropouts, 92 percent functionally illiterate, 75 percent recidivism rate.  They go back sicker and sicker. 

Between these mountains of the ball park and the jail was once Campbell's Soup and Sears and Zenith and Sunbeam and stock yards.  There were jobs and there was industry.  Now there's a canyon of welfare and despair.  This canyon exists in virtually every city in America. 

One-fifth of all American children will go to bed in poverty tonight.  Half of all America's African-American children grew up amidst broken sidewalks, broken hearts, broken cities and broken dreams.  The number one growth industry in urban America, jails.  Half of all public housing built in the last ten years, jails.  The top wealthiest 1 percent, wealthiest Americans own as much as the bottom 95 percent; the greatest inequality since the 1920s.  As corporations downsize jobs, out source contracts, a class crisis emerges as a race problem.  But the strawberry pickers in California, the chicken workers in North Carolina deserve a hearing.  We must seek a new moral center.

Thanks to Aaron McGruder and Boondocks, who are too "political" for my local newspaper....


And to conclude, a bit of geography, Baltimore style.  From the final credits in the film Diner:

Modell:  Would you look at this, another article that’s talking about this theory of evolution.  Can you believe this?  I don’t buy the whole thing.  They’re saying that millions of years ago there was a swamp, alright, and in the middle of this murky disgusting boggy water swamp there’s an amoeba.  Now this amoeba meets another amoeba and they have a kid who’s a fish who crawls onto land and from one lousy amoeba millions of years ago today there’s some guy with a winter coat on a corner yelling “taxi!”?  Where’s that connection, how can that possibly… an amoeba has no legs, it’s got nothing, there’s no connection.  It’s all animals, it’s not just people…

Eddie:   It can happen.  What do you mean it can’t evolve?  Maybe it floats.

Shrevie:  You’re going to argue this with him?

Modell:  It’s not even just people.   It's animals, it’s chickens, how can chickens live in a swamp?  They can’t even make it out of a pot of frying oil.  Chickens, dogs, birds, cows… cocker spaniels puppies living in a muddy swamp.  It’s enough to make you sick.

Eddie: Well girls... girls, girls don’t come from the same swamp, that’s for sure.

Modell:  I don’t know who makes up this… I mean the guy who makes up this stuff, it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.  People do not come from swamps..., they come from Europe.

Eddie:  Where do people in Europe come from?

Modell:  What am I, Rand McNally?