Departmental Research Projects
Professor Ben Anderson
I am a cultural-political geographer whose research conceptualises ordinary affective life, and examines the politics of affect in relation to emergency governance, Brexit and the rise of populisms of the left and right, and other contemporary conditions. Since joining Durham in 2004, I’ve undertaken a wide range of administrative roles, including Director of the BA/MArts programmes, convenor of the Social-Spatial Theory and Urban Worlds Research Clusters, and currently joint REF co-ordinator. Occasionally, I distract myself from something else I should be doing by writing down some thoughts at @BenAndersonGeog
Affect and Contemporary Conditions
My main current research area concerns the politics of affect in relation to a range of contemporary conditons, principally the emergence of various populisms in the midst of intensifying precarity. Currently, this involves a new project on boredom in relation to contemporary capitalism. I’m fascinated by the question of how, if at all, boredom has changed since the second half of the twentieth century, and how staying with boredom might allow us to think differently about the affective lives of neoliberalism. Other ongoing work focuses on the affective geographies of Brexit (with Helen Wilson) and indebtedness (with James Ash, Paul Langley and Rachel Gordon). This empirical work builds on past theoretical work, principally a 2014 monograph – Encountering Affect: Capacities, Apparatuses, Conditions – which developed a vocabulary for describing how affective life is lived and governed (around concepts such as ‘structures of feeling’ and ‘affective atmospheres’). Current theoretical work on this theme concerns the idea of ‘Public Mood’. For the last three years, I’ve taught a third year module – Neoliberal Life – which explores how neoliberalisms are lived through boredom and outrage, disaffection and change, and hopes and optimism amongst other affects. The course develops from work on neoliberal affects and the relations between affective life and biopower:
Affect and Biopower
The other main strand of my research focuses on how life is governed in, by and through emergencies. Over the second half of the twentieth century, ‘emergency’ shifted from being a term applied to a limited number of events to a term used in relation to almost any event. My research has aimed to understand how and why this change happened, tying it to shifts in ordinary affective life and transformations in the state’s relation to futures. Funded by the ESRC Leverhulme Trust, British Academy, EPSRC and RGS-IBG, work has focused on how new forms and practices of anticipation, such as exercises and scenarios, are being deployed by western states to anticipate and act on discontinuous futures. Recently, this work has shifted to consider situations where claims of emergency are used by progressive groups to draw attention to ongoing harms and damages in the context of enduring and intense inequalities.
On ‘slow emergencies’
On emergency as a ‘mode of eventfulness’
I’m currently involved with an ESRC funded project led by Andres Luque-Ayala on digital media and emergency in Mexico, where we are exploring the relation between digital mediation and how events are governed and lived.
Culture and Life/Living
I have a longstanding interest in how concepts of culture, and the practice of cultural geography, are changing in the midst of the interest in life and living across the humanities and social sciences. Earlier work focused on concepts around matter and materiality and assemblage, as well as debates around non-representational theories. In three recent Progress in Human Geography reports I’ve turned to focus more explicitly on transformations in cultural geography:
Intensities and Forms of Power
The Force of Representations
The Concept of Culture
Over the years, I’ve supervised 19 PhD students and welcome enquiries from anyone wanting to work around the politics of affect and emotion in relation to contemporary conditions, or how emergencies and disasters are lived and governed.
- Affect and Emotion, Matter and Materiality, Utopianism, Non-Representational Theories, Anticipatory Logics/Techniques
- Anderson, B. Encountering Affect: Capacities, Apparatuses, Conditions. Farnham, Surrey Burlington, VT: Ashgate; 2014.
Chapter in book
- Anderson, B 'Brexit Betrayal' and other Post Crisis Affects. In: Kesting, M. & Witzgall, S. Politics of Emotion/Power of Affects. The University of Chicago Press; 2020.
- Anderson, B. Affect. In: Castree, N et al The Wiley-AAG International Encyclopedia of Geography. Wiley-Blackwell; 2014.
- Anderson, B. & Ash, J. Atmospheric Methods. In: Vannini, P. Non-representational methodologies. Routledge; 2014.
- Anderson, B. Emergency/Everyday. In: Elias, A. & Burges, J. Time: A Vocabulary of the Present. NYU Press; 2014.
- Anderson, B. Affect and Emotion. In: Johnson, N et al A Companion to Cultural Geography. 2012.
- Anderson, B. Affect. In: Cloke, P. Crang, P. & Goodwin, M. Introducing Human Geographies. Hodder Arnold; 2012.
- Anderson, B. Targeting Affective Life from Above: Morale and Airpower. In: Adey, P., Whitehead, M. & Williams, A. From Above: Verticality, Violence and Visual Culture. Hurst; 2012.
- Anderson, B. Recorded music and Remembering. In: Rojek, C. Popular Music. London: Sage; 2011.
- Anderson, B. Modulating the Excess of Affect: Morale in a State of Total War. In: Gregg, M. & Seigworth, G. The Affect and Cultural Theory Reader. London: Duke University Press; 2010.
- Anderson, B. & Harrison, P. The Promise of Non-Representational Theories. In: Anderson, B. & Harrison, P. Taking-Place: Non-Representational Theories and Geography. Farnham: Ashgate; 2010:1-36.
- Anderson, B. Entries for: Affect, Emotional Geographies, Non-representational Theory. In: Gregory, D. The Dictionary of Human Geography. 2009.
- Anderson, B. Domestic Geographies of Affect. In: Greco, M. & Stenner, P. Emotions. A Social Science Reader. London: Routledge; 2008:201-205.
- Anderson, B. Doreen Massey 'For Space' (2005). In: Hubbard, P., Valentine, G. & Kitchin, R. Key Texts in Human Geography. London: Sage; 2008.
- Anderson, B. & Harrison, P. Taking-Place: Non-Representational Theories and Geography. London: Ashgate; 2010.
- Anderson, B, Langley, P, Ash, J & Gordon, R Affective Life and Cultural Economy: Payday Loans and the Everyday Space-Times of Credit-Debt in the UK. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 2020.
- Anderson, B, Wilson, H, Foreman, P, Heslop, J, Ormerod, E & Maestri, G Brexit: Modes of Uncertainty and Futures in an Impasse. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 2019.
- Anderson, B. Cultural Geography II: The Force of Representations. Progress in Human Geography. 2019;43:1120-1132.
- Anderson, B Cultural Geography III: The concept of 'culture'. Progress in Human Geography. 2019.
- Langley, P., Anderson, B., Ash, J. & Gordon, R. Indebted life and money culture: Payday lending in the United Kingdom. Economy and Society. 2019;48:30-51.
- Kemmer, Laura, Peters, Christian Helge, Weber, Vanessa, Anderson, Ben & Mühlhoff, Rainer On right-wing movements, spheres, and resonances: an interview with Ben Anderson and Rainer Mühlhoff. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory. 2019;20:25-41.
- Anderson, B., Grove, K., Kearnes, M. & Rickards, L. Slow emergencies: temporality and the racialized biopolitics of emergency governance. Progress in Human Geography. 2019.
- Anderson, B Affectve materialism. Dialogues in Human Geography. 2018;8:229-231.
- Ash, J., Anderson, B., Gordon, R. & Langley, P. Digital Interface Design and Power: Friction, Threshold, Transition. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 2018;36:1136-1153.
- Anderson, B. & Wilson, H.F. Everyday Brexits. Area. 2018;50:291-295.
- Ash, J., Anderson, B., Gordon, R. & Langley, P. Unit, Vibration, Tone: A Post-Phenomenological Method for Researching Digital Interfaces. Cultural Geographies. 2018;25:165-181.
- Anderson, B. 'We will win again. We will win the lot': The Affective Styles of Donald Trump. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (Open Site). 2017.
- Anderson, B. Cultural Geography 1: Intensities and Forms of Power. Progress in Human Geography. 2017;41:501-511.
- Anderson, B. Emergency Futures: Exception, Urgency, Interval, Hope. Sociological Review. 2017;65:463-477.
- Anderson, B. & Gordon, R. Government and (Non)Event: The Promise of Control. Social and Cultural Geography. 2017;18:158-177.
- Anderson, B. Hope and micropolitics. Environment and Planning D. 2017;35:593-595.
- Anderson, B. Critique and Ontological Politics. Dialogues in Human Geography. 2016;6:19-22.
- Anderson, B. Neoliberal Affects. Progress in Human Geography. 2016;40:734-753.
- Anderson, B. Boredom, excitement and other security affects. Dialogues in Human Geography. 2015;5:271-274.
- Anderson, B. Governing Emergencies: The Politics of Delay and the Logic of Response. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 2015;41:14-26.
- Adey, P., Anderson, B. & Graham, S. Introduction: Governing Emergencies: Beyond Exceptionality. Theory, Culture and Society. 2015;32:3-17.
- Anderson, B. What kind of thing is resilience?. Politics. 2015;35:60-66.
- Anderson, B. Affect and Biopower: Towards a Politics of Life. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 2012;37:28-43.
- Adey, P. & Anderson, B. Anticipating Emergencies: Technologies of Preparedness and the Matter of Security. Security Dialogue. 2012;43:99-117.
- Anderson, B. & Adey, P. Governing Events and Life: 'Emergency' in UK Civil Contingencies. Political Geography. 2012;31:24-33.
- Anderson, B., Kearnes, M., Mcfarlane, C. & Swanton, D. Materialism and the Politics of Assemblage. Dialogues in Human Geography. 2012;2.
- Anderson, B. Matters of Life (A Commentary on Jane Bennett's Vibrant Matter). Dialogues in Human Geography. 2012.
- Anderson, B., Kearnes, M., McFarlane, C. & Swanton, D. On assemblages and geography. Dialogues in Human Geography. 2012;2:171-189.
- Anderson, B. & Adey, P. Affect and Security: Exercising Emergency in Uk Civil Contingencies. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 2011;29:1092-1109.
- Adey, P., Anderson, B. & Lobo-Guerrero, L. An Ash Cloud, Airspace and Environmental Threat. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 2011;36:338-343.
- Adey, P. & Anderson, B. Anticipation, Materiality, Event: The Icelandic Ash Cloud Disruption and the Security of Mobility. Mobilities. 2011;6:11-20.
- Anderson, B. & McFarlane, C. Assemblage and Geography. Area. 2011;43:124-127.
- Adey, P. & Anderson, B. Event and Anticipation: UK Civil Contingencies and the Space-Times of Decision. Environment and Planning A. 2011;43:2878-2899.
- Anderson, B. Facing the Future Enemy: US Counterinsurgency Doctrine and the Pre-Insurgent. Theory, Culture and Society. 2011;28:216-240.
- Anderson, B. Population and Affective Perception: Biopolitics and Anticipatory Action in US Counterinsurgency Doctrine. Antipode. 2011;43:205-236.
- Anderson, B. Shame, Paranoia and other affects (A Commentary on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick). Progress in Human Geography. 2011;35:127-130.
- McFarlane, C. & Anderson, B. Thinking with Assemblage. Area. 2011;43:162-164.
- Anderson, B. Morale and the Affective Geographies of the 'War on Terror'. Cultural Geographies. 2010;17:219-236.
- Anderson, B. Preemption, Precaution, Preparedness: Anticipatory Action and Future Geographies. Progress in Human Geography. 2010;34:777-798.
- Anderson, B. Security and the Future: Anticipating the Event of Terror. Geoforum. 2010;41:227-235.
- Anderson, B. Affective Atmospheres. Emotion, Space and Society. 2009;2:77-81.
- Anderson, B. & Wylie, J. On Geography and Materiality. Environment and Planning A. 2009;41:318-335.
- Anderson, B. & Holden, A. Affective urbanism and the event of hope. Space and Culture. 2008;11:142-159.
- Anderson, B. & Fenton, J. Spaces of Hope. Space and Culture. 2008;11.
- Anderson, B., Kearnes, M. & Doubleday, R. Geographies of nano-technoscience. Area. 2007;39:139-142.
- Anderson, B. Hope for nanotechnology: Anticipatory knowledge and governance of affect. Area. 2007;19:156-165.
- Anderson, B. 'Transcending Without Transcendence': Utopianism and an Ethos of Hope. Antipode. 2006;38:691-710.
- Anderson, B. Becoming and being hopeful: towards a theory of affect. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 2006;24:733-752.
- Anderson, B. & Harrison, P. Questioning Affect and Emotion. Area. 2006;38:333-335.
- Anderson, B. Practices of Judgement and Domestic Geographies of Affect. Social and Cultural Geography. 2005;6:645-660.
- Anderson, B., Morton, F. & Revill, G. Practices of Music and Sound. Social and Cultural Geography. 2005;6:639-644.
- Anderson, B. & Tolia-Kelly, D.P. Matter(s) in social and cultural geography. Geoforum. 2004;35:669-674.
- Anderson, B. Recorded music and practices of remembering. Social and Cultural Geography. 2004;5:3-20.
- Anderson, B. Time-stilled space-slowed: how boredom matters. Geoforum. 2004;35:739-754.
- Anderson, B. A Principle of Hope: Recorded Music, Listening Practices and the Immanence of Utopia. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography. 2002;84:211-227.
- 2014: Governing Emergencies (£76910.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
- 2014: Philip Leverhulme Prize (£70000.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
- 2010: Data and decision in UK emergency preparedness (£12000.00 from County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service)
- 2009: STAGING AND PERFORMING EMERGENCIES (£48077.24 from ESRC)
- 2005: HOPE AND CULTURAL REGENERATION (£7442.00 from The British Academy)
- 2005: IMAGINING THE NANOSCALE (£2121.00 from Royal Geographical Society)