Materialising (geo-)politics: bodies, things, technologies

Organisers: Jason Dittmer (UCL) Martin Müller (Universität Zürich)

Sponsored by the Political Geography Research Group.

Geopolitics has always been about the material world. In classical geopolitics, geographical features shape, indeed determine, the conduct of politics and struggle for territory. In recent debates, however, the material world has entered politics and geopolitics in a much more subtle fashion. A revalorisation of the material has taken place under the banner of a plethora of approaches, often lumped together loosely as ‘new materialism’. Assemblage thinking, actor-network theory, object-oriented ontology, vital materialism, and affect and more-than-human approaches have, in distinct ways, accorded the material world a status that makes it neither the determinant and cause of human action, nor its passive objects, waiting to be inscribed with meaning. For political geography, this expands the engagement with the material world, which feminist geographers pioneered with attention to the body and embodiment.

Political geographers have picked up on this momentum of new materialism to examine how understandings of politics and space change if the material world is reinserted. This session aims to further this engagement. We thus invite contributions that zoom in on particular materials – technologies, objects, bodies, buildings, documents, nature and so on – and the political work they do. We are looking for papers with an empirical grounding that seek to conceptualise the political implications of materials through one or several theoretical lenses. While such work can have a descriptive or analytical character, it could also consider ways in which to arrive at a more responsible material politics.

Proposal for papers, including a title and an abstract of no more than 250 words, should be sent as an attachment to both organisers: Martin Müller ( and Jason Dittmer ( until Tuesday, 10 February 2015.

Indicative Literature

Anderson, Ben, and John Wylie. 2009. “On Geography and Materiality.” Environment and Planning A 41: 318–35.

Barry, Andrew. 2013. Material Politics: Disputes along the Pipeline. Oxford: Blackwell.

Bennett, Jane. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Braidotti, Rosi. 2013. The Posthuman. Oxford: Wiley.

Braun, Bruce, and Sarah Whatmore, eds. 2010. Political Matter: Technoscience, Democracy, and Public Life. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Depledge, Duncan. 2014. “Geopolitical Material: Assemblages of Geopower and the Constitution of the Geopolitical Stage.” Political Geography. Accessed July 18.

Dittmer, Jason. 2014. “Geopolitical Assemblages and Complexity.” Progress in Human Geography in press: 1–17.

Fregonese, Sara. 2009. “The Urbicide of Beirut? Geopolitics and the Built Environment in the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1976).” Political Geography 28 (5): 309–18.

Grosz, Elizabeth A. 2008. Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hyndman, Jennifer. 2004. “Mind the Gap: Bridging Feminist and Political Geography through Geopolitics.” Political Geography 23: 307–22.

Meehan, Katharine, Ian Graham Ronald Shaw, and Sallie A. Marston. 2013. “Political Geographies of the Object.” Political Geography 33 (March): 1–10.

Müller, Martin. 2012. “Opening the Black Box of the Organization: Socio-Material Practices of Geopolitical Ordering.” Political Geography 31 (6): 379–88..

Protevi, John. 2009. Political Affect: Connecting the Social and the Somatic. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Squire, Vicki. 2015. “Reshaping Critical Geopolitics? The Materialist Challenge.” Review of International Studies 41 (1): 139–59.

Stengers, Isabelle. 2005. “The Cosmopolitical Proposal.” In Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, edited by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, 994–1003. Cambridge: MIT Press.