short bio

Natalie Koch received her PhD in Geography from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2012. She is a political geographer working on geopolitics, nationalism, and state power in the resource-rich states of post-Soviet space and the Arabian Peninsula. Dr. Koch focuses on alternative sites of geopolitical analysis such as spectacle, sport, science and higher education, environmental policy, and urban planning. In investigating how ostensibly positive expressions of state power differentially engage individuals as political subjects, she asks how people (re)produce place-based affinities and identities, and in so doing, construct moral geographies of liberalism and illiberalism. In addition to a broader study of environmental policy in the hydrocarbon-rich states of Arabian Peninsula and Central Asia, she is currently working on a project to define a “desert geopolitics” approach to the transnational implications water-energy-food policies. Moving beyond state-centric approaches to geopolitics, she is researching how desert imaginaries and materialities factor into environmental interventions, expertise, and transnational networks of power — today and historically.

affiliation and current position

Associate Professor and O’Hanley Faculty Scholar, Department of Geography, The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University


Political geography, nationalism, environmental geopolitics, sport, Central Asian studies, Gulf and Arabian Peninsula studies

works/publications on Central Asia

Koch, N. and V-P Tynkkynen. Forthcoming. The geopolitics of renewables in Kazakhstan and Russia. Geopolitics.

Koch, N. 2018. The geopolitics of spectacle: Space, synecdoche, and the new capitals of Asia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Koch, N. 2015. The violence of spectacle: Statist schemes to green the desert and constructing Astana and Ashgabat as urban oases. Social and Cultural Geography 16(6): 675-697.

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