Geographies of toponymic inscription: New directions in critical place-name studies

Reuben Rose-Redwood, Derek Alderman, Maoz Azaryahu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study of place naming, or toponymy, has recently undergone a critical reformulation as scholars have moved beyond the traditional focus on etymology and taxonomy by examining the politics of place-naming practices. In this article, we provide a selective genealogy of the 'critical turn' in place-name studies and consider three complementary approaches to analyzing spatial inscription as a toponymic practice: political semiotics, governmentality studies, and normative theories of social justice and symbolic resistance. We conclude by proposing that future scholarship should explore the political economy of toponymic practices as a step toward expanding the conceptual horizon of critical place-name studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-470
Number of pages18
JournalProgress in Human Geography
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010


  • Critical place-name studies
  • Governmentality
  • Politics of calculation
  • Semiotics
  • Social justice
  • Symbolic resistance
  • Toponymy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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