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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Elizabeth Johnson

Johnson, Elizabeth Biomimetic Geopolitics: The Earth, Inside Out. Techniques & Culture Supplements. 2020;73:13832.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper analyzes how biomimetic innovations reveal a recursive knot between biological knowledge production, technological innovation, and wider material environments and histories. It focuses on the so-called RoboLobster project and the role of biomimetic technology within US military strategy. I consider how military biomimetics orients certain perspectives on nonhuman biologies, reframing them not only as active elements in political strategy, but also recoding their life activities through the language of operability. This, I suggest reconceptualizes bioscience and its labors as productive assets through a lens of bio-operability and eco-securitization. Through a language of operability, analyses of life are made synonymous with capacities to adapt to environmental conditions. In the process, not only have the epistemic cultures of bioscience and technological innovation become recursively entwined, they are enfolded within a view of the earth prefigured as a battlefield and its inhabitants viewed as active agents of transformative potential on it. These transformative potentials are not driven by accumulation, but by a logic of the operational dominance over space and environmental conditions.