Natalie Koch, PhD
Associate Professor & O’Hanley Faculty Scholar
Department of Geography, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs, Syracuse University
Faculty Coordinator, Central Asia and the Caucasus Research Group, Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs
I am a political geographer concentrated on state theory, territoriality, nationalism, citizenship, and authoritarianism. My research focuses on resource-rich states in Central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula, where I examine how people (re)produce place-based affinities and identities, and in so doing, construct moral geographies of liberalism and illiberalism. I am especially interested in alternative sites of geopolitical analysis such as sport, spectacle, higher education, urban development, and other ostensibly positive discourses that constitute differential forms of geo-power, but ultimately enlist individuals as political subjects in nondemocratic polities.
I am currently working on my second book project, Spatializing authoritarianism: A critical geopolitics of closed contexts and illiberal practices, and have two ongoing projects about technopolitics in the Gulf region: “Laboratories of liberalism in the Arabian Peninsula” (with Neha Vora) and “Green laboratories: Alternative energy futures and sustainability exemplars in the Arabian Peninsula.”
Commentaries and policy memos
- Steinberg, P. et al. 2018. Reassessing the Trump presidency, one year on. Political Geography 62: 207-215.
- Koch, N. 2017. Qatar and Central Asia: What’s at stake in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan? PONARS Eurasia. Policy memo #484.
- Koch, N. 2017. Geopower and Geopolitics in, of, and for the Middle East. International Journal of Middle East Studies 49(2): 315-318.
- Koch, N. 2017. Orientalizing authoritarianism: Narrating US exceptionalism in popular reactions to the Trump election and presidency. Political Geography 58: 145-147.
- Koch, N. and A. Valiyev 2016. Restructuring extractive economies in the Caspian basin: Too little, too late? PONARS Eurasia. Policy memo #441. [reprinted on RBK as “Реформы и их имитация: куда движутся экономики прикаспийских стран”]
- Астана – жаңа мүмкіндіктер мекені, interview with Egemen Kazakhstan.
Koch, N. and K. White. 2016. Cowboys, gangsters, and rural bumpkins: Constructing the ‘other’ in Kazakhstan’s ‘Texas.’ In M. Laruelle (Ed.), Kazakhstan in the Making: Legitimacy, Symbols, and Social Changes. Lanham: Lexington Books: 181-207. [Text]
Koch, N. 2016. The ‘personality cult’ problematic: Personalism and mosques memorializing the “father of the nation” in Turkmenistan and the UAE. Central Asian Affairs 3(4): 330-359. [Text] [Talk on YouTube]
Koch, N. and A. Valiyev. 2015. Urban boosterism in closed contexts: Spectacular urbanization and second-tier mega-events in three Caspian capitals. Eurasian Geography and Economics 56(5): 575-598. [Text]
Koch, N. 2015. Domesticating elite education: Raising patriots and educating Kazakhstan’s future. In M. Ayoob and M. Ismayilov (Eds.) Identity and foreign policy in Central Eurasia. New York: Routledge: 82-100. [Text]