Law and Politics in the Anthropocene, Birkbeck, 10 December 2018

Law and Politics in the Anthropocene, Birkbeck, 10 December 2018

Free to attend, but registration required

Speakers: Alain Pottage (LSE) / Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (University of Westminster) / Daniel Matthews (University of Hong Kong) / Lilian Moncrieff (University of Glasgow) / Mark Maslin (UCL) / Nayanika Mathur (University of Oxford) / Rory Rowan (University of Zurich) / Vito de Lucia (UiT Arctic University of Norway).

Many now claim that we have entered a new climatic regime (the Anthropocene) that marks a transition from the previous geological epoch (the Holocene), a peri- od of 12,000 in which human civilisations emerged. The Anthropocene thesis con- tends that collective human action has become so potent that it is shaping the earth’s systemic functioning. In this way, the Anthropocene reveals a new ontol- ogy or mode of being-in-the-world in which human agency is intimately bound up with the functioning of the earth’s biogeochemical systems and cycles, situating human agency and our political formations within rather than set against the so- called ‘natural environment’. However, within most legal and political thought this ontology remains remarkably difficult to grasp. Throughout modernity legal and political forms have largely been understood to transcend any connection to the inorganic, the non-human or the environmental. The aspirations of human civ- ilisation are commonly thought to depend on the postulation of an anthropogenic superiority in which a ‘natural condition’ (or ‘state of nature’) is overcome in the pursuit of a truly ‘political’ life. The prospect of human survival in this new epoch is bound up with a range of nonhuman forces that our political and legal thought has largely approached as an uninteresting backdrop against which human dra- mas are played out. In the relatively stable conditions of the Holocene this ‘back- drop ontology’ was perhaps understandable. But the Anthropocene tells us that the backdrop is beginning to move, the scenery and props have come to life.

With a focus on questions of method, orientation and encounter, speakers will address the flowing concerns:

    • To what extent do the methodologies which have largely defined modernity – dialectics, historical materialism, genealogy and so on – continue to assists us in the context of the Anthropocene?
    • Towards what ought our thinking on this topic be both temporally and spatiallyorientated: an unjust past or an apocalyptic future; towards Europe or China; the global North or South?
    • What are the fields of law (environmental law, international law, corporate law) and politics (international relations, security studies, biopolitics) that need to be brought into conversation?
    • How can we nurture interdisciplinary literacy across the natural and social sciences, arts and humanities in order to address the challenges that the Anthropocene brings into view?

This event is organised by BIH Visiting Fellow, Dr. Daniel Matthews, and is supported by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the Birkbeck Centre for Law and the Humanities.


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CFP: Violence, Space and the Archives – NUI Galway, 23-24 May 2019

CFP: Violence, Space and the Archives – National University of Ireland, Galway, 23-24 May 2019

We invite paper submissions from across the disciplinary spectrum for a conference on ‘Violence, Space and the Archives’ to examine the challenges and possibilities presented by archival work that interrogates the imbrications of violence and space.

Many research projects concerned with the spatial, contextual, and/or historical specificities of violence involve the assembling of an empirical corpus, however defined, in order to (re)construct moments of struggle and contestation. Archives are often constituted by, and reflect, the concerns of power. The archive is a site of silence as much as a site of statement. Still, archival collections often allow the voices of the dispossessed, the marginal, and those most subject to regimes of power, to speak, albeit often through a narrowed aperture. Along with the strategic concerns of officialdom, the archives may also give voice to alternative political desires and ambitions, revealed through moments of contestation and resistance. As a political technology, archives render the state’s claimed spaces visible and orderable through cataloguing, but may also underline the contingency of dominant configurations of power by revealing sites of refusal. Of course, ’the archive’ is not limited to institutional and official repositories, but also to a shared fidelity to unofficial and counter-hegemonic memories that refuse to be forgotten.

We invite 20 minute papers that explore some of the following non-exhaustive list of themes:

•     The silence of the archive

•     Political desires/spatial imaginaries

•     Making contested space/ rebel space/ oppositional space visible

•     Contentious episodes and the archive

•     Histories/genealogies of thought as archive

•     Collective memory and resistance

•     Humanitarian archives and histories of violence

•     Archiving in times of conflict

•     Conflict and digital archives

Send abstracts of 250-300 words, along with name and affiliation and a short bio (100 words) to by 21st January 2019

The conference takes place in NUI Galway and is organised by the Whitaker Institute’s Research Cluster on Conflict, Humanitarianism and Security in association with the Moore Institute, the School of Political Science & Sociology and the Peace and Conflict Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association of Ireland. It builds on the success of the 2018 Conference on Violence, Space, and the Political.

Organisers: Gary Hussey and Niall Ó Dochartaigh, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway

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Advance copy of Shakespearean Territories (University of Chicago Press, 2018) received

STsI’ve just received an advance copy of Shakespearean Territories (University of Chicago Press, 2018). The book has been a long time in production, and the final stages were delayed by paper shortages and printer problems in the US. I’ve been told that warehouse copies will follow, which usually the sign for when the book is more generally available from other sellers.

Shakespeare was an astute observer of contemporary life, culture, and politics. The emerging practice of territory as a political concept and technology did not elude his attention. In Shakespearean Territories, Stuart Elden reveals just how much Shakespeare’s unique historical position and political understanding can teach us about territory. Shakespeare dramatized a world of technological advances in measuring, navigation, cartography, and surveying, and his plays open up important ways of thinking about strategy, economy, the law, and colonialism, providing critical insight into a significant juncture in history. Shakespeare’s plays explore many territorial themes: from the division of the kingdom in King Lear, to the relations among Denmark, Norway, and Poland in Hamlet,  to questions of disputed land and the politics of banishment in Richard II. Elden traces how Shakespeare developed a nuanced understanding of the complicated concept and practice of territory and, more broadly, the political-geographical relations between people, power, and place. A meticulously researched study of over a dozen classic plays, Shakespearean Territories will provide new insights for geographers, political theorists, and Shakespearean scholars alike.

Jeff Malpas, University of Tasmania
Shakespearean Territories is a truly groundbreaking volume that enriches our reading of Shakespeare at the same time as it illuminates our understanding of the nature and history of territory. An insightful and engrossing work, Shakespearean Territories demonstrates Elden’s unquestionable position as the most significant thinker of territory and the geographic working today—and in relation to the literary and dramatic no less than the political.”
Alexander Murphy, University of Oregon
“A work of meticulous scholarship, Shakespearean Territories teases out and explains a wide range of geographical themes present in Shakespeare’s plays with finesse and profound interpretation. Beyond the specific insights he offers on territory and geography as refracted through Shakespeare’s plays, Elden displays the substantial value of bridging literary and historical-geographical analysis.”
Garrett Sullivan, Penn State University
Shakespearean Territories offers illuminating analyses of Shakespeare’s works that are immersed in relevant scholarship on the colonial, geophysical, and corporeal aspects of territory. This is a fascinating textual analysis that builds upon the concept of territory with Elden’s characteristic nuance and depth.”

Introduction: Shakespearean Territories
Chapter 1: Divided Territory: The Geo-politics of King Lear
Chapter 2: Vulnerable Territories: Regional Geopolitics in Hamlet and Macbeth
Chapter 3: The Territories: Majesty and Possession in King John
Chapter 4: Economic Territories: Laws, Economies, Agriculture, and Banishment in Richard II
Chapter 5: Legal Territories: Conquest and Contest in Henry V and Edward III
Chapter 6: Colonial Territories: From The Tempest to the Eastern Mediterranean
Chapter 7: Measuring Territories: The Techniques of Rule
Chapter 8: Corporeal Territories: The Political Bodies of Coriolanus
Chapter 9: Outside Territory: The Forest in Titus Andronicus and As You Like It
Coda: Beyond Pale Territories

References to Shakespeare’s Plays


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Tiago Santos Almeida, Canguilhem e a gênese do possível – Editora LiberArs 2018

canguilhem e a genese do possivel_capa.jpgTiago Santos Almeida, Canguilhem e a gênese do possível: Estudio sobre a historicização das ciências [Canguilhem and the genesis of the possible. A study on the historicization of sciences] – Editora LiberArs 2018

Tiago tells me that the Table of contents, Preface and Introduction are on, and that

The book will be released november 30, during the “6th Colloquium on History and Philosophy of Science: the Human Sciences”. I also attached the program. The colloquium will take place at the History Department of the Federal University of Goiás, Brazil.
181108_coloquio_filosofia-historia - cartaz-1.jpg
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Stephen Legg and Deena Heath (eds.) South Asian Governmentalities: Michel Foucault and the Question of Postcolonial Orderings – Cambridge UP, 2018

9781108428514Stephen Legg and Deena Heath (eds.), South Asian Governmentalities: Michel Foucault and the Question of Postcolonial Orderings – Cambridge University Press, 2018

This volume analyses the ways in which the works of one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, Michel Foucault, have been received and re-worked by scholars of South Asia. South Asian Governmentalities surveys the past, present, and future lives of the mutually constitutive disciplinary fields of governmentality – a concept introduced by Foucault himself – and South Asian studies. It aims to chart the intersection of post-structuralism and postcolonialism that has seen the latter Foucault being used to ask new questions in and of South Asia, and the experiences of post-colonies used to tease and test the utility of European philosophy beyond Europe. But it also seeks to contribute to the rich body of work on South Asian governmentalities through a critical engagement with the lecture series delivered by Foucault at the Collège de France from 1971 until his death in 1984, which have now become available in English.

1. Introducing South Asian governmentalities Deana Heath and Stephen Legg
2. Governmentality in the East Partha Chatterjee
3. Pastoral care, the reconstitution of pastoral power and the creation of disobedient subjects under colonialism Indrani Chatterjee
4. The abiding binary: the social and the political in modern India Prathama Banerjee
5. Colonial and nationalist truth regimes: empire, Europe and the latter Foucault Stephen Legg
6. Law as economy/economy as governmentality: convention, corporation, currency Ritu Birla
7. Do elephants have souls? Animal subjectivities and colonial encounters Jonathan Saha
8. Plastic history, caste and the government of things in modern India Sara Hodges
9. Changing the subject: from feminist governmentality to technologies of the (feminist) self Srila Roy
10. The tortured body: the irrevocable tension between sovereign and biopower in colonial Indian technologies of Rule Deana Heath
11. The subject in question Gerry Kearns

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Adam Bobbette and Amy Donovan (eds.), Political Geology: Active Stratigraphies and the Making of Life – Palgrave 2018

978-3-319-98189-5Adam Bobbette and Amy Donovan (eds.), Political Geology: Active Stratigraphies and the Making of Life – Springer 2018. Looks an interesting collection but a great shame about the prohibitive price.

This book builds on the enthusiasm for the geological generated by the Anthropocene but expand beyond it in three ways. First, it will probe deeper into the politics, history, and contemporary practices of the geological sciences as a way of thinking, representing, and communicating the geos. This will open up the history of the earth sciences as a science that has been fundamentally imbricated with politics and that its politics has been one of making the geological sensible. Second, it will consider in detail geologies that are volatile and vulnerable and that because of this are subject to practices of governance. Finally, it will multiply the tradition of geological thought in the sciences by considering subaltern, amodern, vernacular, and counter traditions of geological practice and science and its political resonances. This volume will consider these three frameworks through essays historical, ethnographic and conceptual, mindful of the richness of empirical detail and the innovative consequences of looking at the intersections of geology and politics.
The book brings together key thinkers on geological politics and political geology as well as emerging topics in human and cultural geography. It will include ten clearly structured chapters, and will seek to solidify a field of inquiry that is of interest to geographers, philosophers of science, anthropologists and sociologists.

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Cities and colonialism – Royal Academy, 3 December 2018, 6.30pm

Cities and colonialism: The Space of Colonialism – Royal Academy, 3 December 2018, 6.30pm – with Ana Naomi de Sousa, Aya Nasser, Yara Sharif and Léopold Lambert,

How have the urban spaces of Lisbon, Cairo and Jerusalem been shaped by colonialism? Join our panel as we discuss the impact of colonialism on contemporary urban landscapes.

Architecture has been used politically, to shape identities, form behaviours and as a tool to channel power. However, architecture also has the potential to subvert politics and to reappropriate space.

In the second event in The Space of Colonialism series, we look at the political potential of architecture through the lens of colonialism and the city. With a focus on Lisbon, Cairo and Jerusalem, we will explore how post-colonial politics continue to transform the built environment and shape public space in these different geographical contexts.

Our panel will examine how a colonial state can demolish and construct parts of a city to assert control, organising cities into spaces in which citizens are permitted or excluded. Join us for a discussion on the city as a stage for anti-colonial struggles.

The Space of Colonialism series is guest curated by Léopold Lambert and The Funambulist, a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to the politics of space and bodies.

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Dawn Lyon, What is Rhythmanalysis? – Bloomsbury, November 2018

9781350018273.jpgDawn Lyon, What is Rhythmanalysis? – Bloomsbury, November 2018

In recent years, there has been growing interest in Henri Lefebvre’s posthumously published volume, Rhythmanalysis. For Lefebvre and subsequent scholars, rhythmanalysis is a research strategy which offers a means of thinking space and time together in the study of everyday life, and this remains its strength and appeal.

What is Rhythmanalysis? addresses the task of how to do rhythmanalysis. It discusses the history and development of rhythmanalysis from Lefebvre to the present day in a range of fields including cultural history and studies of place, work and nature. For Lefebvre, it is necessary to be ‘grasped by’ a rhythm at a bodily level in order to grasp it. And yet we also need critical distance to fully understand it. Rhythmanalysis is therefore both corporeal and conceptual. This book considers how the body is directly deployed as a research tool in rhythmanalytical research as well as how audio-visual methods can get at rhythm beyond the capacity of the senses to perceive it. In particular, the book includes detailed discussion of research on different forms of mobility – from driving to dancing – and on the social life of markets – from finance to fish.

Dawn Lyon highlights the gains, limitations and lively potential of rhythmanalysis for spatially, temporally and sensually attuned practices of research. This engaging text will be of interest to students and researchers in sociology, criminology, socio-legal studies, geography, urban studies, architecture, anthropology, economics and cultural studies.

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Books received – Hollier, Bataille, Monk, Coleman & Agnew, Wahl


Denis Hollier, Le Collège de Sociologie; Georges Bataille, Choix de Lettres, 1917-1962; the first volume of Ray Monk’s life of Bertrand Russell, the new Theory, Culture & Society, the Handbook on the Geographies of Power, edited by Mat Coleman and John Agnew, and awahl lecture course by Jean Wahl. Most relate to the Foucault work, and were bought second-hand, though the Handbook is for review.


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Nancy Luxon (ed.), Archives of Infamy: Foucault on State Power in the Lives of Ordinary Citizens – U Minnesota Press, 2019

imageNancy Luxon (ed.), Archives of Infamy: Foucault on State Power in the Lives of Ordinary Citizens – University of Minnesota Press, 2019

Expanding the insights of Arlette Farge and Michel Foucault’s Disorderly Families into policing, public order, (in)justice, and daily life

What might it mean for ordinary people to intervene in the circulation of power between police and the streets, sovereigns and their subjects? How did the police come to understand themselves as responsible for the circulation of people as much as things—and to separate law and justice from the maintenance of a newly emergent civil order? These are among the many questions addressed in the interpretive essays in Archives of Infamy.

Crisscrossing the Atlantic to bring together unpublished radio broadcasts, book reviews, and essays by historians, geographers, and political theorists, Archives of Infamy provides historical and archival contexts to the translation of Disorderly Families by Arlette Farge and Michel Foucault. This volume includes new translations of key texts, including a radio address Foucault gave in 1983 that explains the writing process for Disorderly Families; two essays by Foucault not readily available in English; and a previously untranslated essay by Farge that describes how historians have appropriated Foucault.

Archives of Infamy pushes past old debates between philosophers and historians to offer a new perspective on the crystallization of ideas—of the family, gender relations, and political power—into social relationships and the regimes of power they engender.

I have a piece in this entitled ‘Home, Street, City: Farge, Foucault and the Spaces of the Lettres de cachet‘ – preprint available here.

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