Dr. Alexander C. Diener

Natural Sciences and Mathematics - Geography and Atmospheric Science, Geography
Associate Professor
Primary office:
Lindley Hall, 413A
University of Kansas
Second office:


Alexander C. Diener is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Kansas. After earning his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alex was a Title VIII Research Fellow at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center. He then taught at Pepperdine University before becoming Senior Fellow in Eurasian Studies at George Washington University (2010-2011) and Regional Research Fulbright Scholar in Central Asia (2011-2012). In 2012 Alex joined the faculty of the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Kansas, where he is also affiliated faculty with the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Center for East Asian Studies, Center for Migration Research, and Environmental Studies.
Throughout his career Alex has worked at the nexus of political, social, economic, and cultural geography, engaging topics such as geopolitics and borders, identity and migration, citizenship, development and mobility, and urban landscape change. He possesses area studies expertise in Central Eurasia (the Central Asian states, Russian Borderlands, Islamic Borderlands) and Northeast Asia (Mongolia and Russian Borderlands). He has authored or co-authored three books, co-edited four books, and published in a variety of disciplinary, thematic, and area-studies academic journals. Over the course of his career Alex has garnered a number of teaching accolades including the 2006 SSRC Teaching Fellowship. Alex founded the undergraduate research journal Global Tides at Pepperdine University and has served as a board member for several international academic organizations and granting agencies. In 2015, he held a Title VIII Short Term Fellowship at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and was named Senior Fellow in Eurasian Studies at the Davis Center of Harvard University (2015-2016).

Teaching Interests

  • Political geography
  • Cultural geography
  • Social Geography
  • Economic Geography
  • Urban Geography
  • Geopolitics
  • International Relations
  • Geographies of Islam
  • Social Theory
  • Border Studies
  • Peace Studies
  • Transnationalism and Diaspora Studies
  • Central Asia
  • Mongolia
  • Russian Borderlands
  • Chinese Borderlands


I characterize myself as a broadly trained human geographer with theoretical interests bridging the social sciences and humanities. At its core, my work explores the relationship between identity and place as an essential element of human ontology. I engage with the people/place bond as it manifests within processes of peace, conflict, and development. Possessing an area studies specialization in Central Eurasia and Northeast Asia, I have contributed to interdisciplinary scholarly discourses relating to borders/ human mobility and immobility, environment/social justice, cultural hybridity, diaspora/transnationalism, and the impact of urban landscape change on community, self, and personhood. Since receiving my PhD, I have undertaken an ambitious research agenda that engages and critiques a range of social theory. Extensive fieldwork employing a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods in the Central Asian states, Mongolia, and both Russian and Islamic borderlands provides the empirical data for this work.

Research Interests

  • Political Geography
  • Social Geography
  • Cultural Geography
  • International Relations
  • Geographic and Social Theory
  • Urban Geography
  • Economic Geography
  • Geopolitics
  • Historical Geography
  • Peace Studies
  • Development Studies

  • Area Studies Foci

  • Central Eurasia
  • Northeast Asia
  • Central Asian States
  • Mongolia
  • Islamic Borderlands
  • Russian Borderlands

  • Specific Interests

  • Border Studies
  • Geographies of Nationalism & Transnationalism
  • Mobilities and Immobilities
  • Migration
  • Citizenship
  • Geographies of Islam
  • Processes and Consequences of Territorialization
  • Urban Landscape Change
  • Justice, Ethics, and Geographies of Belonging
  • Religion and State Relations
  • Place Attachment


Affiliations with:
Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Center for East Asian Studies
Center for Migration Research
Environmental Studies Program

Subscribe to Department News

Environmental Studies Events
ESSA & Grub Club Info
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
Black Lives Matter Solidarity Statement