The College of Liberal Arts at Temple University The College of Liberal Arts at Temple University

Jacob Shell                                                 

Assistant Professor


Office: 319 Gladfelter Hall

Tel: 215 204 1374                                 





Areas of Expertise:

Transportation and infrastructure; transport animals; geography of social movements and rebellions; cartography and geovisualization; mapping of texts and literature; geographic dimensions of political economy.



2012 - Ph.D. in Geography, Syracuse University
2005 - B.A. in Urban Studies, Columbia University


GUS 5159 Geographic Inquiry

GUS 3016/5000 Contemporary Issues in City Planning: Transportation and Culture

GUS 3061/5061 Fundamentals of Cartography

GUS 4061/8065 Cartographic Production


My research employs critical theories of power and resistance to look at the evolving geographies of transportation and mobility systems. Recently, my research has brought me to Myanmar (Burma), to look at the use of trained elephants within the teak logging industry there.  I’ve also written about the politicized decline of canal transport in Britain, Ireland and Canada; the relationship between urban deindustrialization and urban transportation planning in New York City during the mid-20th century; and the use of animal-based transport/logistics during crises (natural disasters or political conflicts) when automotive roads cannot be used.  


My research frequently makes use of qualitative mapping techniques and thematic geovisualization. I collect and write about paper maps, especially those that portray relationships between landscape, mobility, and power in inventive, stimulating or provocative ways. I am currently engaged in a comparative literary mapping project to portray the geographic relationships discussed in writings by Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx. I have also mapped the geography of barbed wire—understood as a kind of “anti-mobility system”—in deindustrializing urban fringes.

Publications (selected):

Shell, J. Transportation and Revolt: Pigeons, Mules, Canals, and the Vanishing Geographies of Subversive Mobility. MIT Press. Under contract.

Shell, J. (2010), "Innovation, Labor and Gridlock: The Unbuilt Freight Plan for Manhattan's Geography of Production." Journal of Planning History 9(1), 3-20.


2012. Chair and Co-Organizer (with Kafui Attoh) of "Placing Justice and Struggle in Transportation Studies" Paper Session. Annual Association of American Geographers Conference, New York City.











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