Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)


The list below shows Durham University research staff who are members of IMEMS. Click the member's name to see a more detailed biography and department.

We also welcome anyone from outside the University with an interest in our work to join. Membership is free of charge. You will receive invitations to our programme of events, with a weekly emails digest about what is happening in the Insitute and further afield. To join IMEMS contact: admin.imems@durham.ac.uk

Professor Ben Anderson

Contact Professor Ben Anderson (email at ben.anderson@durham.ac.uk)

I am a cultural-political geographer whose research conceptualises ordinary affective life and examines how life is now governed through affect. Before joining the Department of Geography in September 2004, I completed a PhD and MA at Sheffield University. Occasionally, I distract myself from something else I should be doing by writing down some random thoughts at @BenAndersonGeog

Recently, I have become fascinated by how emergencies are governed and how emergencies govern. Supported by the award of a Phillip Leverhulme Prize, I’m about to start a genealogy of the birth of the ‘emergency state’. 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. The research aims 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. The research will range from the invention of ordinary emergency techniques, such as triage, to the formalisation of novel ways of responding to events, including rapid response. As such, it develops from recent ESRC, British Academy, EPSRC and RGS-IBG funded work 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. The below papers exemplify this strand of my work:

Preemption, Precaution, Preparedness: Anticipatory Action and Future Geographies

Governing Events and Life: 'Emergency' in UK Civil Contingencies

Closely linked to this work, I’m fortunate to lead a Leverhulme Trust International Network (2013-2015) involving a bunch of interesting people on the theme of ‘Governing Emergencies’:


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. A 2014 monograph – entitled Encountering Affect: Capacities, Apparatuses, Conditions – attempts to develop a vocabulary for describing how affective life is lived and governed (around concepts such as ‘structures of feeling’ and ‘affective atmospheres’). The open access introduction to the book can be found here: 


As well as expanding on arguments set out in a paper on Affect and Biopower, the monograph extends work I have undertaken in the last three years on the politics of affect. This research departs from PhD research that focused on spaces of hope and boredom. As such, my work on 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, or basically anything else that might be interesting.


Research Interests

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

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Anderson, B. (2014). Affect. In The Wiley-AAG International Encyclopedia of Geography. Castree, N et al Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Anderson, B. & Ash, J. (2014). Atmospheric Methods. In Non-representational methodologies. Vannini, P. Routledge.
  • Anderson, B. (2014). Emergency/Everyday. In Time: A Vocabulary of the Present. Elias, A. & Burges, J. NYU Press.
  • Anderson, B. (2012). Affect and Emotion. In A Companion to Cultural Geography. Johnson, N et al
  • Anderson, B. (2012). Affect. In Introducing Human Geographies. Cloke, P. Crang, P. & Goodwin, M. Hodder Arnold.
  • Anderson, B. (2012). Targeting Affective Life from Above: Morale and Airpower. In From Above: Verticality, Violence and Visual Culture. Adey, P., Whitehead, M. & Williams, A. Hurst.
  • Anderson, B. (2011). Recorded music and Remembering. In Popular Music. Rojek, C. London: Sage.
  • Anderson, B. (2010). Modulating the Excess of Affect: Morale in a State of Total War. In The Affect and Cultural Theory Reader. Gregg, M. & Seigworth, G. London: Duke University Press.
  • Anderson, B. & Harrison, P. (2010). The Promise of Non-Representational Theories. In Taking-Place: Non-Representational Theories and Geography. Anderson, B. & Harrison, P. Farnham: Ashgate. 1-36.
  • Anderson, B. (2009). Entries for: Affect, Emotional Geographies, Non-representational Theory. In The Dictionary of Human Geography. Gregory, D.
  • Anderson, B. (2008). Domestic Geographies of Affect. In Emotions. A Social Science Reader. Greco, M. & Stenner, P. London: Routledge. 201-205.
  • Anderson, B. (2008). Doreen Massey 'For Space' (2005). In Key Texts in Human Geography. Hubbard, P., Valentine, G. & Kitchin, R. London: Sage.

Edited book

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

Journal Article

Show all publications

Selected Grants

  • 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)
  • 2005: HOPE AND CULTURAL REGENERATION (£7442.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2005: IMAGINING THE NANOSCALE (£2121.00 from Royal Geographical Society)