Geography Professor Honored for Scholarly Work and Mentorship

The Kent State University College of Arts and Sciences congratulates James A. Tyner, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Geography and Director of the Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence, who is a 2021 recipient of ‘Distinguished Scholarship Honors’ from the American Association of Geographers (AAG).

The AAG is recognizing him “for his original, transformative, and theoretically grounded geographic scholarship focused on social justice and human rights. Tyner’s pioneering work on violence, genocide, place, memory and memorialization has been recognized for its power and relevance with a series of prestigious awards, and his career is marked by a commitment to public scholarship and noted generosity in encouraging and mentoring graduate students.”

“This is a very high achievement within the 116-year-old anchor association for all geographers,” Mandy Munro-Stasiuk, Ph.D., Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences said.   

For more information about Kent State’s Department of Geography in the College of Arts and Sciences, visit

Full citation from AAG Honors Committee:
“James A. Tyner models the best practices of engaged and relevant scholarship in critical human geography. In more than two decades of professional work, the majority of them at Kent State University in Ohio, Tyner’s academic productivity has been prolific—more than 20 books; at least 120 refereed articles; and myriad conference presentations, panels, and keynotes. The distinction of his scholarship extends beyond conventional quantitative assessments, however; Tyner’s evolving scholarship has provided a powerful moral and ethical voice for those who study social justice, conflict, and violence.

His book War, Violence, and Population: Making the Body Count provides a grounded analysis of violence and conflict in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Rwanda. It received the prestigious Meridian Book Award in 2010. Tyner’s work on conflict and violence has become more focused on South East Asia, specifically Cambodia. He provides novel and innovative analyses of the places, landscapes and experiences of violence. Tyner’s approach to this work is profound as he couples a continued theoretical journey with, as one essayist, Sabina Lawreniuk in the AAG Review of Books, puts it, “the fortitude to trace meticulously through the material, nonmaterial and never materialized fragments of Cambodia’s past—texts, landscapes, bodies, bones and memories” to ask how Cambodia’s violence was made. Explorations of memory and memorialization appear elsewhere in Tyner’s individual and shared work, always with an insistence and invitation for moral and ethical analysis on the part of the reader. As one of the letters of support noted, his “broader research trajectory takes the lives of the marginal and vulnerable seriously.” Reviewers of his work, elsewhere, describe it as accessible, powerful, timely, vivid and compelling.

Tyner’s approach to scholarship reveals an engagement with place-based fieldwork, archival work, but also, the applications of remote-sensing and hydrological analyses. His research has been supported by two significant National Science Foundation grants and has been recognized repeatedly by his peers inside and outside of Geography. He has also been recognized as a researcher by several AAG Specialty groups and has received both the Glenda Laws Award, the Jim Blaut Award, and the Julian Minghi Book Award.

A complement to Tyner’s powerful and relevant academic scholarship is his public scholarship at Kent State University and beyond. Tyner has been recognized by his colleagues at Kent State for his leadership in organizing scholarly events related to memory, violence and conflict. He was recently appointed as Director of the Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence. Tyner’s commitment and generosity extends to his mentoring and encouragement of graduate students and junior scholars, which has been repeatedly recognized at his home institution.

The professional pathway of Tyner reveals a significant and enduring contribution to transformative and grounded research, an indefatigable productivity for formal academic and public scholarship, and a deep and enduring commitment to social justice and human dignity. For these reasons, James A. Tyner is the 2021 recipient of AAG’s Distinguished Scholarship Honors.”

About the American Association of Geographers (AAG)
Since 1951, AAG Honors have been offered annually to recognize outstanding accomplishments by members in research and scholarship, teaching, education, service to the discipline, public service outside academe, and for lifetime achievement. The AAG Honors Committee is elected by the AAG membership and charged with making award recommendations for each category, with no more than two awards given in any one category. This year’s Honors Committee members are Julie A. Silva, University of Maryland College Park (Chair); Amy Glasmeier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ronald Hagleman, III, Texas State University; Richard Kujawa, St. Michael's College; Andrew Sluyter, Louisiana State University; and Julie Winkler, Michigan State University.

For more than 100 years, The American Association of Geographers (AAG) has contributed to the advancement of geography. Our members from nearly 100 countries share interests in the theory, methods, and practice of geography, which they cultivate through the AAG's Annual Meeting, scholarly journals (Annals of the American Association of Geographers, The Professional Geographer, the AAG Review of Books and GeoHumanities), and the online AAG Newsletter. The AAG is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1904.

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Media Contacts:
Jim Maxwell, Kent State University, 330-672-8028,
Lisa Schamess, American Association of Geographers, 202-234-1450, ext 1164,

POSTED: Tuesday, December 15, 2020 03:06 PM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 11:46 AM
Jim Maxwell