My name is Mia Bennett, and I’m an assistant professor in the Geography Department at the University of Washington. Previously, I taught in the Department of Geography and School of Modern Languages & Cultures (China Studies Programme) at the University of Hong Kong.
As a political geographer with geospatial skills, I trace, map, and critique processes of Arctic frontier-making from the edges of settler colonial states and orbits of space powers like China to the depths of Indigenous lands. Experimental methods including ethnographic and digital fieldwork, visual and discourse analysis, critical remote sensing, and cartography are central to my work.
My current area of focus is the Nordic littoral, where I am examining the intersection of frontier-making in the Arctic and outer space through case studies involving the development of commercial spaceports in Andøya, Shetland, and Kiruna. With some wonderful colleagues, I’m also working to advance the subfield of critical remote sensing. We advocate for: 1) using satellite imagery to expose social and environmental justice; 2) engaging groups typically left outside remote sensing’s community of practice; and 3) empowering new users with the tools to do remote sensing themselves – and reimagine the technology, too. I’m also interested in expanding the notion of remote sensing beyond machine instruments to consider, for instance, Indigenous and traditional observing methods.
I’ve done fieldwork on bridges both real and imagined in the Russian Far East, on a new highway to the Arctic Ocean in Canada’s Northwest Territories, atop the melting Greenland Ice Sheet, and inside air-conditioned offices in Singapore.
My research has been supported by generous grants from the Regional Studies Association, National Science Foundation, International Council for Canadian Studies, the UCLA College of Social Sciences, American Geophysical Union’s Cryosphere Focus Group, the UCLA Canadian Studies Program, and the UCLA Urban Humanities Institute.
I also collaborate with the InfraNorth project at the University of Vienna. I was a Doris Zimmern HKU-Cambridge Hughes Hall Fellow at the University of Cambridge in 2019, and will be a visiting fellow at the Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies in 2023 at Heidelberg University.
I received a PhD in Geography from UCLA, where I was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. I also participated in the NSF Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide program at the University of Vienna. Prior to that, I obtained an MPhil in Polar Studies from the University of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute with the support of a Gates Scholarship.
My academic publications are listed in Google Scholar and available to read on academia.edu and ResearchGate. I post occasional 140-character thoughts on Twitter, square-sized photographs on Instagram, videos of Norwegian farming and the like on YouTube, and updates on Facebook. Email me at miabenn at uw dot edu or send a message using the form below, and I’ll do my best to respond to you in English, Russian, French, or Swedish.