Klinger Wins Meridian Book Award for Rare Earth Frontiers


Julie Klinger, Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, has been named the winner of the 2017 American Association of Geographers (AAG) Meridian Book Award for  Rare Earth Frontiers: From Terrestrial Subsoils to Lunar Landscapes (Cornell University Press, 2018).

In the award citation, the AAG states “Rare Earth Frontiers lays bare the complex web of relationships involved in the production and consumption of the rare-earth minerals that power a great many technologies upon which we grow increasingly dependent.”

Rare Earth Frontiers is a work of human geography that serves to demystify the powerful elements that make possible the miniaturization of electronics, green energy and medical technologies, and essential telecommunications and defense systems. According to Klinger, the rare earths we rely on most are as common as copper or lead, and this means the implications of their extraction are global.

In the book, Klinger excavates the rich historical origins and ongoing ramifications of the quest to mine rare earths in ever more impossible places.

Klinger demonstrates in human terms how scarcity myths have been conscripted into diverse geopolitical campaigns that use rare earth mining as a pretext to capture spaces that have historically fallen beyond the grasp of centralized power including legally and logistically forbidding locations in the Amazon, Greenland, and Afghanistan, and on the Moon.

The award citation goes on to state “Rare Earth Frontiers advances the art and science of geography on several levels. It provides a firm grounding in the physical elements of the geology and production of the minerals, and at the same time it illustrates their crucial role in geopolitics, especially Sino-American relations.”

Julie Klinger specializes in development, environment, and security politics in Latin America and China in comparative and global perspective. She is currently completing a book project on the global geography of rare earth prospecting and mining, with a special emphasis on the development and geopolitics of resource frontiers in Brazil, China, and Outer Space.