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Arun Saldanha

Arun Saldanha

Geography 432 SST 267 19th Ave S

Department Affiliations


I still feel as much a student as a teacher, and that might never change. I studied Media Studies at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium I finished my PhD at the Open University in the U.K. in 2004, but continue finding new avenues for reading and research. My PhD was on a rave tourism scene in a coastal village in South India. This might not sound as a serious 'geographical' topic initially, but geography is very broad and it depends very much on the way you approach phenomena, rather than the phenomena themselves. Thus my PhD enabled me to think very hard about the geography of race relations, globalization and counterculture. Being half-Belgian and half-Indian probably got me interested in questions of travel and identity from an early age.

In 2007, my first book appeared at the University of Minnesota Press called Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race. It suggests a way of looking at race as a material process. This means that race is based on how different people (economically different, physically different) interact with each other and gradually become divided into racial groups.

Since I started at the U of M, I've started a new research project on Dutch exploration of the Indian Ocean at the beginning of the imperial era, focussing on the Itinerario (1596) of Jan Huygen van Linschoten. This seems a weird leap from rave tourism. What is common to both projects is the question of how white people get to travel and establish new connections between Europe and India. In between, I have also embarked on a project regarding drugs, largely following the issues raised in my PhD. How are drugs (conceived broadly, from sugar and spices to opium and LSD) involved in imaginations of the exotic and geopolitical power relations?

My interests are generally brought under the rubric of 'cultural geography': music, travel, race, gender, media, colonialism, drugs. I would say that there are important economic, political, ecological and urban aspects to these themes too. What drives me, finally, is philosophy, especially Gilles Deleuze and the philosophy of science. I like reading as much as I like clubbing. Both teach me what I need to know about the world.


  • Race
  • Colonialism
  • Travel
  • Music
  • Continental philosophy
  • Feminist theory
  • Marxism

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: The Open University, UK, 2004.
  • Licentiate: Communication Studies, Free University of Brussels, Belgium, 1997.
  • Diploma: Higher Secondary Education, Koninklijk Atheneum Denderleeuw, Belgium, 1993.


  • Arun Saldanha and Hoon Song, eds. Sexual Difference between Psychoanalysis and Vitalism. London, Routledge, 2013.
  • Arun Saldanha and Jason Michael Adams, eds. Deleuze and Race. Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2013.
  • Arun Saldanha and Rachel Slocum, eds. Geographies of Race and Food: Fields Bodies Markets. Aldershot, Ashgate, 2013.
  • Saldanha, Arun. "Monopoly’s violence: Georges Bataille explains the early Dutch spice trade." Geographies of Race and Food: Fields, Bodies, Markets (2013)
  • Saldanha, Arun. "Bastard and mixed race are the true names of race." Deleuze and Race (2013)
  • Saldanha, Arun. "Power-geometry as philosophy of space." Spatial Politics: Essays for Doreen Massey (2013)
  • Saldanha, Arun. "One, two, many: what is sexual difference now." Angelaki: Journal for the Theoretical Humanities 17(2) (2012): 1-29.
  • Saldanha, Arun. "Against yin-yang: the dao of feminist universalism." Angelaki: Journal for the Theoretical Humanities 17(2) (2012): 145-168.
  • Saldanha, Arun. "Michaux: xenopathic ontology." Deleuze Studies 6(3) (2012): 411-437.
  • Saldanha, Arun. "The itineraries of geography: Jan Huygen van Linschoten’s Itinerario and Dutch exploration of the Indian Ocean, 1594-1602." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101(1) (2011): 149-177.
  • Saldanha, Arun. "Politics and difference." Place-Making: Nonrepresentational Theories and Human Geography (2010)
  • Saldanha, Arun. "The ghost of Goa trance: a retrospective." The Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance (2010)
  • Saldanha, Arun. "Skin, affect, aggregation: Guattarian variations on Fanon." Environment and Planning A, 42(10) (2010): 2410-2427.
  • Saldanha, Arun. "Two birds of paradise in North Holland, 1592: the gift of the exotic." Parallax 16(1) (2010): 68-79.
  • Saldanha, Arun. Whiteness in Golden Goa: Linschoten on phenotype. London, Routledge, 2009.
  • Saldanha, Arun. "Back into the great outdoors: speculative realism as philosophy of science." Cosmos and History: Journal for Social and Natural Philosophy 5(2) (2009): 304-321.
  • Heterotopia and structuralism: Saldanha, Arun, Environment and Planning A, 40 , 2008. Download
  • Saldanha, Arun. Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
  • Saldanha, Arun. "The political geography of many bodies." The Sage Handbook of Political Geography (2007): Link
  • Saldanha, Arun. "The LSD-event: Badiou not on acid." Theory and Event 10(4) (2007): online.
  • Saldanha, Arun. "Re-ontologising race: the machinic geography of phenotype." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 24 (2006): 9-24. Download

Research Activities

  • Early Dutch exploration in the East and the historical geography of whiteness

Courses Taught

  • Social Theory and Feminism in Geography
  • Geog 3900 - Music in the City: Sounds and Bodies in Different Places
  • Networks of Techno-Science and the Material World
  • Introduction to Human Geography
  • Geog 8230 - Theoretical Geography: Race, Space and Biopolitics
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