Earth, Terricide, Geo-metrics

I’ve now nearly finished writing my keynote lecture for the Regimes of Calculation and Global Governance workshop at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (September 19-20). The title is “Geo-metrics” (abstract here). This is the third in a sequence of papers I’ve been working on, along with the Foucault material, over the past few months. The first was the ‘Earth’ paper at the CityState: A Lexical-Political Workshop in Tel Aviv back in June (abstract and audio recording here). The second was last week’s talk on “Terricide: Lefebvre, Geopolitics and the Killing of the Earth” at the RGS-IBG conference (abstract and audio here).

The problem is that the papers share crucial parts, even if the arguments go in different directions. This is, I think, fine for presentations – especially ones on three continents. The ‘Earth’ paper was the conceptual clearing-the-ground paper, with some gestures towards how this might help us to rethink geopolitics, and some discussion of Elizabeth Grosz’s work on geopower at the end. For a conference on concepts this worked okay, I think. The ‘Terricide’ paper began with the geopolitics argument, and then moved to discuss what Lefebvre might offer to all this, mentioned debates around urbicide, linked it to E.P. Thompson’s notion of exterminism, and briefly related this to Grosz and the other papers in the session around geology and geophysics. The ‘Geo-metrics’ paper begins with some general comments about the globe and world, rehearsing some of the arguments I’ve made before in relation to Fink, Axelos and Lefebvre, moves to a discussion of the global/geopolitics issue that it shares with the other two papers, a bit on the etymology and the risk of reactionary politics (from ‘Earth’), and then goes into a much longer argument about Heidegger’s work on calculation (drawing on my book Speaking Against Number). Calculation is obviously a crucial theme in the workshop, and presumably why I was asked to speak at it. It then returns to a discussion of Grosz (part of the ‘Earth’ paper), and discusses potentials in the tradition, and in the present, for thinking geo-metrics. Examples include the Roman land surveyors, Bartolus of Sassoferrato, lots of quick references to other work that I think shares a sensibility and sensitivity to these questions, and then moves to discuss Simon Dalby‘s forthcoming paper ‘The Geopolitics of Climate Change’, in relation to my ‘Secure the Volume‘ essay. Both those two papers were Political Geography lectures, and Simon generously picked up on my arguments in his paper. My paper, to be delivered at a workshop in the School where Simon now works, repays the favour.

Depending on publication plans, though, overlap presents much more of a problem. The ‘Terricide’ paper is promised to a Punctum Books project out of the sessions. There has been discussion of the Tel Aviv papers, in some form and arrangement, being published. But the Geo-metrics paper is probably going to be the strongest of these, at least as it develops over time. But I may have to sacrifice that, or the ‘Earth’ one, to make the others work – they share too many elements to be published as they are.

This entry was posted in Bartolus of Sassoferrato, Conferences, Elizabeth Grosz, Eugen Fink, Henri Lefebvre, Kostas Axelos, Martin Heidegger, Politics, Publishing, Speaking Against Number, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Earth, Terricide, Geo-metrics

  1. Regan says:

    Hi Stuart. I really like your piece about volume. Here in Auckland, NZ our local Council has just signed off on a new planning framework for the region and like many cities we are adopting a compactness theory. My team are responsibly for modelling the effect of development policies on the ground – we’ve managed to do this in 3D which has been fascinating. It’s interesting because there is major concern about land banking and it’s effect on house prices. I continue to make the argument however that space banking is far more relevant. Most buildings in our CBD and town centres are not built within the ‘theoretical’ envelope of development. This is due to a whole host of reasons 1 being the building codes necessitate a different approach once you go above 4 stories (different materials, engineering standards etc…). This outcome is somewhat ironic given the politics of height; almost all communities don’t want town centres to grow and height is the cause of growth (in areas where land is a finite resource anyway). reductions in height mean reductions in capacity which raises other issues – namely how much additional growth “must” our rural areas take. I guess i’d say the politics of height is a very live planning issue but that the necessarily volumetric consequence of Z isn’t. Love your blog by the way. Regan.

  2. stuartelden says:

    Thanks for the comment Regan, and glad you liked the Volume paper and the blog. I am sure the vertical/volume idea could be developed in lots of different ways. Part of the point of the Volume piece was to say that simple height, vertical considerations were not enough, but much more needs to be done.

  3. Pingback: Books received | Progressive Geographies

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