Benjamin Smith

Associate Professor

Global and Sociocultural Studies

Office: SIPA 305

Phone: 305.348.2074



I have long been fascinated by how we organize our landscapes and why our world looks the way it does. Over time, I became particularly interested in how places defined themselves through their landscapes, and why some places (and the people who lived in them) were wildly more successful in doing so than others. It is seeking answers to these fundamentally geographic questions (to which there are exceedingly complicated answers) that drives my research. While I have always done small projects wherever I have been based, most of my research is on how landscape mattered in shaping the cultural economy of Arab Gulf Cities, particularly Dubai. The culmination of this research is the book, Market Orientalism: Cultural Economy and the Arab Gulf States, which was published by Syracuse University Press in Fall 2015.

In terms of teaching, at the undergraduate level, I am part of the rotation that teaches large sections of World Regional Geography (GEA 2000). In addition, I teach upper-division courses on the Geography of the Middle East (GEA 3635), Geography of Global Change (GEO 3001), Urban Geography (GEO 3602) and Social Theory (SYA 4011). At the graduate level, I teach a wide-ranging seminar on spatial thought in social theory called "Space, Place and Identity" (GEO 6473).

Areas of Expertise

Cultural Economy, Middle East, Urban Geography, Landscape


PhD, University of Kentucky, 2008