CFP – RGS-IBG 2016 – State, territory, urbanism: Exploring the nexus between government and infrastructure

Posted on behalf of Mark Usher

State, territory, urbanism: Exploring the nexus between government and infrastructure
Mark Usher, University of Manchester (
Rhys Jones, Aberystwyth University (
Ingrid Medby, University of Durham (

This session will consider how research on the techno-political nexus between sovereignty and the ‘stuff’ of public services, namely large technological systems, infrastructural capacity and logistical centres, can provide original insights into traditional issues of statehood, nation-building, governance and socio-economic restructuring. The logistical matrix and everyday infrastructural workings of the state have become a ‘matter of concern’ (Barry 2013) not only for civil engineers but increasingly for scholars in the humanities and social sciences (Mukerji 2009; Guldi 2012; Jones and Merriman 2012; Joyce 2013; Harvey and Knox 2015; Swyngedouw 2015). Here, what Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari called ‘collective equipment’- canals, roads, railways, dams, utilities and telecommunications systems inter alia – have been conceptualised as a networked technological medium through which administrative control over territory and population has been consolidated, organised and urbanised (McFarlane and Rutherford 2008; Bennett and Joyce 2010). This session invites submissions that further our understanding of the nexus between infrastructure, territory and the state through empirical and theoretical analysis. In particular, how are nation-states assembled and endowed with ontological solidity as technological networks emerge, consolidate and integrate (Mitchell 2002), and indeed, what happens to our understanding and experience of government when these systems fragment and disperse? Can we think of infrastructure as a strategic medium between cities and the nation-state? How can a topological and ‘volumetric’ (Elden 2013) understanding of infrastructural space advance existing theories of the state?
Potential themes could include, but are not limited to, the following:
– State formation, nation-building and techno-nationalism
– Restructuring, austerity and state dismantling
– Territorialisation, assemblages and worlding
– Urbanism, municipal governance and new state spaces
– Material politics of infrastructure and engineering
– Governmentality and material geographies of governance
– Failing states and infrastructural incapacity
– Techno-politics of logistics, circulation and mobilities
– Political subjectivity, biopolitics and cyborg citizens
– Socio-spatial theory and the post-structural state
Please send abstracts (250 words max) to by Friday 12th February, with your name and affiliation included.

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