Xiang Zhang

PhD Candidate
Primary office:


Advisor:  Barney Warf

Focusing Field:  Social Space Theory, Cultural and Economic Geographies, Immigration and Regional Development

Interesting Areas:  East Asia and Latin America

Education:  MSc in Human Geography (Bristol, UK), BEcon (Hons) (HKU, HongKong)

​Personal Briefing:  

After receiving a Master's degree in human geography from the University of Bristol, Johnson decided to continue his travel in the geography of world cultural and economics at the America's heartland.  Under the advisory of Prof. Barney Warf, a leading figure in human and critical geographies, Johnson has planned and undergone his research fields into two interesting branches:

First, the theoretical framework of the social space we are living in.  One of the most attractive topics to Johnson is how we evaluate and model the influence of virtual spaces in our daily life.  Literatures from both philosophical approaches of space of relation and affect, and empirical attempts connecting connecting topological modeling have become the center of Johnson's current reading and thinking tasks.   He is attempting to integrate both critical and empirical approaches to identify a new social space model in order to facilitate the research of contemporary social connectivity and human relations, as well as provide a feasible channel to analyze the cyber effect since the revolution of communication.  Current topics related to that include the origin and development of distant personal relationship, reconfiguration of spatial pattern of socioeconomic activities and global logistics flows by e-commerce, etc.

Second, the relationship between cultural and economic geographies.  The mechanism of regional development is related to the cultural background of a certain region as well as the pattern of individual relationships within that.   Relating to his effort for a new social space model, Johnson also wants to extend the application of the relational and topological feature of social space into the analysis of the influence of cultural and economic institutions, such as how the migrating group affecting and being affected by the relation to the local group and changing the institutional pattern of the place and then influencing the developing path of the region.  Johnson's effort is attempting to use a model to quantify, or clearly evaluate the effect of cultural and socioeconomic changes for the development of researched regions.

It is clear that Johnson's current planning for his research is at a rough and preliminary stage.  He is very happy to discuss the related issues with anyone who is interested.

After several trips to Mexico, Central America, Chile, and Argentina, Johnson is fascinated with the diverse and complicated societies in Latin America.  Along with his Chinese origin in East Asia, these two regions comprise to his current interested area of research.

During his spare time, Johnson is an enthusiast in classical music, flights, and cuisines.  He also spends lots of time traveling, wine tasting, and reading history.


Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science Events
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.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
KU Today