Leverhulme Trust Network on Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World (the ICE LAW Project)

Phil Steinberg has the good news that the Leverhulme Trust has funded the Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World (the ICE LAW Project). I’ll be leading the subproject on territory. Congratulations to Phil and Kate Coddington who led the application. Here’s the full story:

I’m happy to announce that the Leverhulme Trust’s International Networks Programme has agreed fund a series of workshops, conferences and meetings to further the Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World (the ICE LAW Project), a project being organised by IBRU: Durham University’s Centre for Borders Research with the support of the UArctic Thematic Network on Arctic Law.

To quote from the grant proposal:

The ICE LAW Project will query how human interactions with the geophysical environment of the world’s frozen regions challenge Western normative principles of state power and legal authority that assume an idealized binary between land and water. Six subprojects led by ten scholars (representing seven institutions in six countries) will investigate how normative principles of state territory are challenged by the dynamic nature of geophysics. Subprojects will explore how complex geophysical processes and changes are encountered through regulations and practices of territory, resource use, law, mobility, and migration, including a focus on local and indigenous perspectives.

Over the next three years, beginning in January 2016, each subproject will be a holding a number of workshops, and we’ll also be organising a number of larger conferences, as well as sessions at the 2017 International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS) in Umeå, Sweden. The plan of action follows directly from the Workshop on the Ice-Land-Water Interface held in June 2014 in Durham.

I look forward to working with the subproject leaders: Claudio Aporta & Aldo Chircop(Mobilities), Gavin Bridge (Resources), Kate Coddington (Migrations), Stuart Elden(Territory), Timo Koivurova (Law), and Stephanie KaneJessica Shadian, & Anna Stammler-Gossmann (Local & Indigenous Perspectives).

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Nick Vaughan-Williams, Europe’s Border Crisis: Biopolitical Security and Beyond – forthcoming from Oxford University Press

Nick Vaughan-Williams, Europe’s Border Crisis: Biopolitical Security and Beyond – forthcoming from Oxford University Press.


Europe’s Border Crisis investigates dynamics in EU border security and migration management and advances a path-breaking framework for thought, judgment, and action in this context. It argues that a crisis point has emerged whereby irregular migrants are treated as both a security threat to the EU and as a life that is threatened and in need of saving. This leads to paradoxical situations such that humanitarian policies and practices often expose irregular migrants to dehumanizing and lethal border security mechanisms. The dominant way of understanding these dynamics, one that blames a gap between policy and practice, fails to address the deeper political issues at stake and ends up perpetuating the terms of the crisis.

Drawing on conceptual resources in biopolitical theory, particularly the work of Roberto Esposito, the book offers an alternative diagnosis of the problem in order to move beyond the present impasse. It argues that both negative and positive dimensions of EU border security are symptomatic of tensions within biopolitical techniques of government. While bordering practices are designed to play a defensive role they contain the potential for excessive security mechanisms that threaten the very values and lives they purport to protect. Each chapter draws on a different biopolitical key to both interrogate diverse technologies of power at a range of border sites and explore the insights and limits of the biopolitical paradigm. Must border security always result in dehumanization and death? Is a more affirmative approach to border politics possible? Europe’s Border Crisis sets out a new horizon for addressing these and related questions.


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Thomas Nail, The Figure of the Migrant – forthcoming from Stanford University Press

Thomas Nail, The Figure of the Migrant – forthcoming from Stanford University Press. I provide one of the endorsements. The book is due out in September. In the meantime, a short interview on migrant politics related to the themes of the book that can be viewed/downloaded here.


This book offers a much-needed new political theory of an old phenomenon. The last decade alone has marked the highest number of migrations in recorded history. Constrained by environmental, economic, and political instability, scores of people are on the move. But other sorts of changes—from global tourism to undocumented labor—have led to the fact that to some extent, we are all becoming migrants. The migrant has become the political figure of our time.

Rather than viewing migration as the exception to the rule of political fixity and citizenship, Thomas Nail reinterprets the history of political power from the perspective of the movement that defines the migrant in the first place. Applying his “kinopolitics” to several major historical conditions (territorial, political, juridical, and economic) and figures of migration (the nomad, the barbarian, the vagabond, and the proletariat), he provides fresh tools for the analysis of contemporary migration.

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A new review at the Society and Space open site.

Originally posted on Society and space:

978-0-8223-5527-4_prLuca Follis reviews Janet Roitman’s book Anti-Crisis (Duke University Press, 2014).

We live in times of crisis, or so it would seem. News reports daily confirm the intractability of enduring geo-political predicaments (e.g., in Afghanistan and Iraq) and the emergence of new situations announced as historical turning points (e.g., Syria and ISIS, Greece and the EU, Ebola) to say nothing of the variegated, post-facto accounting of decision making and action during emergencies (e.g., the recent political wrangling over the USA Freedom Act or the US Senate’s Report on CIA Torture operations).  Political, institutional, financial and humanitarian crises abound and they proliferate at a seemingly unchecked pace. But is this global state of affairs merely a reflection of a historical, empirical moment or is it an expression of the ease and haste with which we label events as critical (and by extension the way we approach the broader category…

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New book from Anna Tsing: The Mushroom at the End of the World: on the possibility of life in capitalist ruins


News of a curious and fascinating-sounding book forthcoming from Anna Tsing.

Originally posted on the anthropo.scene:

k10581The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, coming from Princeton this September, details here.

Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world—and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the northern hemisphere. Through its ability to nurture trees, matsutake helps forests to grow in daunting places. It is also an edible delicacy in Japan, where it sometimes commands astronomical prices. In all its contradictions, matsutake offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: what manages to live in the ruins we have made?

A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist…

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Judith Butler Parting Ways – A Jewish Philosophy Symposium


Thanks to dmfant for this link to a symposium on Judith Butler’s Parting Ways.

Originally posted on jewish philosophy place:

judith butler

This symposium on Parting Ways is just out in the print version of the journal Political Theology. It includes contributions by Sarah Hammerschlag, Larisa Reznik, Martin Kavka, Vincent Lloyd, and myself with a response by the author, Judith Butler.

There is something uncomfortable about the entire exchange. At points frustrated by the political polemics roused by her book, Butler would clearly have preferred to have focused the discussion around purely philosophical problems raised by Levinas, Benjamin, Arendt, Darwish, and her readings of them. But there seems to have been no way to get past the problem of Jewish identity, given the polemical contexts that stage her readings. It has been suggested to me by a dear friend that Butler did not seem to want to theorize Jewish identity, i.e. her own Jewish identity, which she takes as a given matter of biographical fact.

What I would suggest is that…

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How Does the University Press Remain Relevant?


An interesting piece on one element of scholarly publishing.

Originally posted on The Scholarly Kitchen:

Hedgehog viewing the internet. Image via Sigma Seven.

My attendance at AAUP this year was cut short because of a family obligation back home, but in the time I was there, I got to talk to a number of people, all laboring conscientiously for their respective organizations and all of whom believe that their work is important, financial constraints  notwithstanding. Perhaps it is a function of seeing so many familiar faces (why is it that people persist in getting older?), but I came away with the feeling that we are in the midst of a prolonged moral rumination. Note that I do not use the phrase “existential crisis.” The presses will be with us longer than the people working for them; existence is not at issue. But centrality is a different matter. How does the business of university press publishing remain relevant today, when so many forces seem to be moving in a…

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Mary Beard on the last stages of writing a book – SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

Mary Beard has an interesting piece on the last stages of writing a book – SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome.


Ok I know you will think that you have heard this before, but the book is now within 1000 words of being completely finished. I am just tying up the epilogue, and if I get a good day at it tomorrow I may wrap it up (if I dont, then, yes, it could drag on till Thursday…after which I have no leeway … hope I am not tempting fate here).

When I say completely finished, I don’t actually mean completely, of course. I mean that the creative, staring-into-the-abyss bit has been done. Enough so that if I were to collapse and die tomorrow, it could be published in my name. What still remains are some of the lengthy, nitty gritty, frustrating and anxiety making stages. I mean things like the acknowledgements, where the terror that you will forget to thank someone who has been instrumentally helpful is almost as bad as staring into the abyss, the photo-captions and selection (what are the chances of inadvertently getting one the wrong way round?), the maps (worst of all) and the Further Reading and Timeline (on which I have to say I have had some help… thank you Hannah, in case I forget later). continues here.

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Critical Theory’s eight books that came out in June 2015

june-2015-critical-theory-books-672x372Critical Theory’s eight books that came out in June 2015

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Macherey: Lire Foucault and Other Recent Presentations


Some recent papers by Pierre Macherey

Originally posted on My Desiring-Machines:

Pierre Macherey has posted four recent presentations on Foucault (from the “Foucault au collège de France : une aventure intellectuelle et éditoriale” conference), Althusser, and Hegel/Spinoza on his blog (thanks to Jason Read for posting this on Facebook).

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