Animating Geopolitics – cfp for ISA panel in Toronto 2014

Please send inquiries/abstracts of no more than 250 words to Vicki Squire V.J.Squire@warwick.ac.uk and/or Juanita Sundberg juanita.sundberg@ubc.ca by May 20, 2013.

This panel aims to animate the spatial dimensions of geopolitics by focusing on the materiality of diverse bordering practices. The theme of animating geopolitics reflects recent calls to revitalize, “re-naturalize,” or materialize political geography, which come at a time when scholars are increasingly highlighting the significance of biophysical entities such as deserts, seas, and islands to contemporary practices of governing borders and mobility. By exploring the spatial and material dimensions of geopolitical practice with reference to contemporary border struggles, the panel seeks to address critical questions regarding the politics of ‘nature’ and the constitution of ‘the human’. As such, the panel opens up an important debate regarding the political implications of the post-humanist or materialist turn in IR for the field of critical geopolitics, in particular as this pertains to the analysis of contemporary bordering practices.

Theoretically informed and empirically orientated paper proposals that revitalize and embody geopolitics in spatial and material terms are invited for consideration as part of this panel. In particular, we invite papers that take into account how biophysical forces, organic matter, inanimate ‘objects’, and ‘posthuman’ technologies are involved both in practices of governing mobility and in the contestation of, or resistance to, such practices. Paper proposals that reflect critically on the stakes and status of ‘the human’ in relation to such processes are particularly welcome, as are those that interrogate the possibilities of a non-deterministic critical materialist geopolitics. Key questions for panelists include (but are not limited to):

• Which conceptual approaches foster an account for materiality without assuming that geopolitical arrangements and outcomes result from nature?

• What are the challenges and promises of the “new materialisms” for theories of geopolitics, and what are the political implications of such theories for the field of critical border studies?

• In what ways can we develop methodological tools that foster an analysis of how organic processes of life matter to the workings of geopolitics and contemporary bordering practices?

• What are the onto-epistemological implications of posthumanism for a critical geopolitics, and what are the political implications of contemporary border struggles for a posthumanist critical geopolitics?

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