Zones of Accumulation Make Spaces of Dispossession

A New Spatial Vocabulary for Human Geography


  • Amy Trauger University of Georgia
  • Jennifer Fluri University of Colorado Boulder


Spatial vocabulary, heuristics, accumulation, dispossession


Human geographers, scholars in other disciplines and the wider public use outdated spatial vocabulary to reference inequality and divergent geographic histories. Most spatial heuristics in wide use (1st world, North/South, etc.) essentialize progress, homogenize entire nations, obscure inequality at multiple scales and deny the processes of creating difference via imperialism, colonialism and capitalism. In this paper we elaborate on a new spatial vocabulary using geographic theory to identify zones of accumulation and spaces of dispossession. We then address what theories inform this naming convention, what it means and critically reflect on some of its weaknesses, such as its binary nature and relative lack of geographic specificity. We conclude by encouraging wider adoption of these spatial heuristics because they take their logic from geographical theory, actual existing inequality on multiple scales and present-day processes of capitalism.


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How to Cite

Trauger, A., & Fluri, J. (2020). Zones of Accumulation Make Spaces of Dispossession: A New Spatial Vocabulary for Human Geography. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 20(1), 1–16. Retrieved from