Geopoetics is concerned, fundamentally, with a relationship to the earth and with the opening of a world.
—Kenneth White, Geopoetics: Place, Culture, World (2004)
The thread that links these convergences is the question of landscape, the poetics and iconology of space and place, and all their relations to social and political life, to experience, to history.
—W. J. T. Mitchell, “Geopoetics: Space, Place, Landscape,” Introduction to a special issue of Critical Inquiry (2000)
“Geopoetics” may be a novel concept for Russian studies, but the term is by no means new. The Scottish poet and critic Kenneth White coined it in 1978, inaugurating an international intellectual and creative movement of the same name that has gained particular momentum in the new millennium. Its urgency in a world that has grown exponentially more connected and networked yet, paradoxically, remains deeply bound to the “iconology of space and place” is evident from the way in which the cultural theorist W. J. T. Mitchell, in conversation with Edward Said and others in the symbolically freighted location of Birzeit University in the West Bank, recouped the term as the organizing principle of a special issue of Critical Inquiry in 2000. If anything, geopoetics as an animating force as well an analytical framework for what Mitchell identifies as “social and political life,” “experience,” and “history” appears in even starker relief against the myriad transnational conflicts that define the globe in 2016 within which, in turn, the region we study has been rapidly redefining itself vis-à-vis the world.