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Summary of the 2023 REP Conference

XIIth Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference
Conference theme: Mapping and Empowerment
Washington, D.C.
October 11-13, 2023


The XII Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference, held in collaboration with the Mid-Atlantic Division (MAD) of the American Association of Geographers, took place at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, D.C. from October 11-13, 2023. The conference was a collaboration of faculty organizers from George Washington University, Texas State University, Towson University and Kent State University with administrative support from the Department of Geography at George Washington University and significant financial support from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The theme of REP XII was Mapping and Empowerment. The conference was attended by 275 participants drawn from academia, government and non-government agencies. The attendees included a significant number of scholars and practitioners who belonged to population groups that were historically underrepresented in geography and academia. Of the total registered participants,186 were faculty members or professionals in the field, and 89 were students. Students made up 33 percent of the paper presenters.


The conference began with an NSF-sponsored pre-conference workshop on Critical Cartography and Pedagogy that focused on mapping as a research and pedagogical tool for empowerment especially among racial, ethnic, and other underrepresented groups, specifically addressing social justice and equity issues. The participants included 22 early career scholars and 8 scholar-mentors with expertise in critical cartography and mapping for social justice. Nine (41 percent) of the early career scholars belonged to underrepresented groups. Sessions were focused on topics such as Making Mapping More Inclusive and Accessible, Mapping and Research, Community Mapping, and Incorporating Mapping in the Classroom. Dr. Enrique Pumar from NSF’s Build and Broaden Program spoke to the group about research
opportunities and grants. Dr. Patricia Ehrkamp (Distinguished Professor of Geography at University of Kentucky and Vice President of the American Association of Geographers) and AAG Councilor Dr. Selima Sultana conducted a listening session with participants to ascertain how the AAG could best mentor early career scholars, especially those from underrepresented groups. Dr. Ellen Granberg, President of George Washington University, addressed the group at the end of the workshop.

Participants engaged in robust discussion, sharing ideas and addressing opportunities and challenges in incorporating critical cartography and mapping for social justice in their research and in the classroom.

The REP Conference kicked off with a Wednesday (October 11, 2023) evening Welcome Reception in the 2nd floor lobby of the Elliott School for International Affairs. Two full days (October 12 and 13) were devoted to 133 paper presentations, 12 panels and 12 posters on topics that included both U.S. and international academic perspectives on a number of issues related to race, ethnicity and place: geographies of refuge, bordering, immigrant communities, diasporas, and indigenous communities. Other issues addressed in papers and panels included environmental justice, food justice, healthcare justice, housing and gentrification, socio-spatial justice, workforce justice and climate justice. The differential impacts of diseases on minority groups, the experience of belonging to ethnic and racial minorities in the United States as well as critical GIS, community engagement and mapping. “Featured Panels” reflected the conference theme of Mapping and Empowerment, as well as related themes of
social justice, diversity, and inclusion.

The Friday plenary featured talks by two keynote speakers:

  1. Dayna Bowen Matthew, Dean and Harold H. Greene Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School whose talk was titled “Race, Place, and Health: What to do when the law is not on your side”
  2. Mark Lopez, Director of Race and Ethnicity Research at Pew Research Center, who spoke on “The Geography of Latino Racial Identities in the U.S.”

The keynotes were followed by a catered reception in the City View Room in the Elliott School Building.

The conference would not have been possible without the generous support of many institutions, academic departments, the National Science Foundation, American Association of Geographers, and Deans of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. We are extremely grateful for their support.


Elizabeth Chacko, George Washington University
Marie Price, George Washington University
Sarah Blue, Texas State University
Jeremy Tasch, Towson University/MAD-AAG
David Kaplan, Kent State University


Further support REP

You can make an optional donation to REP below. Your generous donation (of any amount) to the REP Conference will go towards offsetting conference costs and supporting student travel, making the conference more affordable for those in need of financial support.

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