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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Dr Ben Anderson

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41897
Fax: +44 (0)191 33 41801
Room number: 322

Contact Dr Ben Anderson (email at


My research concerns the geographies of life: developing concepts to help understand how life is lived and tracing how life is governed in 21st century liberal-democracies. Before joining the Department of Geography in September 2004, I completed a PhD and MA at Sheffield University and a BA (hons) at Manchester University. Currently, I am Director of the BA Programme, after having previously convened the Social-Spatial Theory research cluster from 2005-2009.

My current research focuses on how Western liberal democratic societies plan for a range of disruptive events in a world of interdependencies and circulations. Specifically, I am interested in how diverse forms of anticipatory action take place: how attempts are made by states and other actors to prepare for or pre-empt future events such as trans-species epidemics, terrorist attacks, financial crises, or strikes. Most recently, this strand of work has involved ESRC funded research (with Peter Adey and Steve Graham) on how one technique – the exercise – is a central part of UK emergency preparedness. Methodologically this involved tracing changes in emergency planning over the last ten years, observing different types of exercises, and talking to emergency planners about how they plan, design and learn from exercises. Future research will examine how the term emergency is deployed by States, corporations and communities, and the implications of ways of governing in and through emergency for how we conceptualise political authority and power. In 2011/12 I taught a new 3rd year module - The Politics of Emergency - that considers how life in the early 21st century is governed through the idea of ‘emergency’.

The other side of my research has explored the implications of theories of affect and matter for what social and cultural geography is and does. I have recently  finished writing a monograph – entitled A Politics of Affect and Emotion – that attempts to develop a vocabulary for describing how affective life is lived and governed (around concepts such as ‘structures of feeling’ and ‘affective atmospheres’). As well as expanding on arguments set out in a 2012 Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers paper on the relation between affect and biopower, the monograph extends work I have undertaken in the last three years on the politics of affect. Through substantive research on the military and security geographies of liberal-democracies, including counterinsurgency and aerial bombing, I have shown how affective life is categorised, measured and targeted in a variety of ways. This research departs from PhD research that focused on different spaces of hope and boredom through case studies of recorded music and everyday life. As such, my work on the politics of affect offers a contribution to debates about what cultural geography is and does amid the now widespread concern with life and living. Together with Dr Paul Harrison, I have edited the first collection of essays on non-representational theories and human geography. The extensive introduction to which should be available here:

In addition to the non-representational theories collection, I have also co-edited special issues on, amongst other topics, ‘Future Geographies’ (Environment and Planning A with Dr Peter Adey), ‘Assemblage’ (Area 2011 with Dr Colin McFarlane), ‘Matter and Materiality’ (Geoforum 2004, with Dr Divya Tolia-Kelly) and ‘Spaces of Hope’ (Space and Culture 2008, with Dr Jill Fenton). I currently supervise nine PhD students and welcome enquiries from anyone wanting to work around the politics and practices of anticipation and/or the politics of affect and emotion.

Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Affect and Emotion, Matter and Materiality, Utopianism, Non-Representational Theories, Anticipatory Logics/Techniques

Selected Publications

Journal papers: academic

Books: edited

  • Anderson, B. & Harrison, P. Taking-Place: Non-Representational Theories and Geography. London: Ashgate; 2010.

Essays in edited volumes

  • 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. London: 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.

Show all publications

Selected Grants

  • 2014: Governing Emergencies (£76910.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
  • 2010: Data and decision in UK emergency preparedness (£12000.00 from Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Brigade)
  • 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)