Cookies

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

Research lectures, seminars and events

The events listed in this area are research seminars, workshops and lectures hosted by Durham University departments and research institutes. If you are not a member of the University, but  wish to enquire about attending one of the events please contact the organiser or host department.


 

Geo-power: what new Earth - Workshop

10th January 2020, 10:30 to 17:00, Collier Room, St Hild & St Bede College

Hosted jointly by the Centre for Cultural Ecologies and the Department of Geography

This workshop seeks to extend ongoing interdisciplinary discussions across the humanities and interpretive social sciences concerning the transactions of power and the geos. Amid the undoing of the Earth, whether through climate change, intensifying extraction and exploitation, or capitalist political economy more generally, the geos has become revitalised as a source for political, social, and cultural theory making in times of crisis. According to this ‘grounded’ mode of theory making, we stand to gain a unique perspective on what it means to inhabit Earth today by thinking through and with the geos. To paraphrase Thoreau, we might say that in geos lies the articulation of the world. But if the geos is never innocent, never politically inert, what emerges from these conversations is a sense in which the geos is both the recipient and origin of power. Elizabeth Povinelli’s concept of geontopower is one such attempt to make sense of power and geos. Not only does her concept of geontopower draw attention to a unique form of power that operates through the distinction life (bios) and non-life (geos), so it allows for enduring geosocial formations, not least petromasculinity, settler colonialism, empire, patriarchy, and whiteness to be rethought through life/non-life. But even as Povinelli’s renderings of power and the geos allow us to grasp something of how Earth itself is settled, Elizabeth Grosz’ proximate notion of geopower designates something different, and so it should. For at the (lithospheric?) core of geos, for Grosz, we find the animating force of difference. Geopower can certainly be conceptualised as a form of power in which the Earth—geos—is subjected to the logic of capital accumulation. But for Grosz, geos is neither surface nor material, but the very thing that precedes them both. It designates potential, the very undoing of the Earth, biopossibility, geo-possibility (?), and excess. Geopower is difference. Like Foucault’s power, Grosz’ geopower is expansive and productive. This workshop, thus, offers an opportunity to speculate on a series of questions and tensions arising through attempts such these to make theory from the geos. How might the relation between geos and power be meaningfully rendered? Is the geos itself an artefact of power? Is there life or difference in the lithosphere, in the Earth? How might reading the geos and power together help us reconceptualise the political? Or even better, how might listening to and theorising with the geos allow us to navigate life on the knife-edge of our current conjuncture? These are just some of the questions we hope to address in this speculative engagement with geo-power.

This workshop seeks to extend ongoing interdisciplinary discussions across the humanities and interpretive social sciences concerning the transactions of power and the geos. Amid the undoing of the Earth, whether through climate change, intensifying extraction and exploitation, or capitalist political economy more generally, the geos has become revitalised as a source for political, social, and cultural theory making in times of crisis. According to this ‘grounded’ mode of theory making, we stand to gain a unique perspective on what it means to inhabit Earth today by thinking through and with the geos. To paraphrase Thoreau, we might say that in geos lies the articulation of the world. But if the geos is never innocent, never politically inert, what emerges from these conversations is a sense in which the geos is both the recipient and origin of power. Elizabeth Povinelli’s concept of geontopower is one such attempt to make sense of power and geos. Not only does her concept of geontopower draw attention to a unique form of power that operates through the distinction life (bios) and non-life (geos), so it allows for enduring geosocial formations, not least petromasculinity, settler colonialism, empire, patriarchy, and whiteness to be rethought through life/non-life. But even as Povinelli’s renderings of power and the geos allow us to grasp something of how Earth itself is settled, Elizabeth Grosz’ proximate notion of geopower designates something different, and so it should. For at the (lithospheric?) core of geos, for Grosz, we find the animating force of difference. Geopower can certainly be conceptualised as a form of power in which the Earth—geos—is subjected to the logic of capital accumulation. But for Grosz, geos is neither surface nor material, but the very thing that precedes them both. It designates potential, the very undoing of the Earth, biopossibility, geo-possibility (?), and excess. Geopower is difference. Like Foucault’s power, Grosz’ geopower is expansive and productive. This workshop, thus, offers an opportunity to speculate on a series of questions and tensions arising through attempts such these to make theory from the geos. How might the relation between geos and power be meaningfully rendered? Is the geos itself an artefact of power? Is there life or difference in the lithosphere, in the Earth? How might reading the geos and power together help us reconceptualise the political? Or even better, how might listening to and theorising with the geos allow us to navigate life on the knife-edge of our current conjuncture? These are just some of the questions we hope to address in this speculative engagement with geo-power.

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Professor Federico Luisetti (St Gallon) (keynote)
  • Professor Kathryn Yusoff (Queen Mary)
  • Dr Anupama Ranawana (Oxford Brookes)
  • Professor Nigel Clarke (Lancaster)
  • Dr Rory Rowan (Queen Mary)
  • Dr Giovanni Bettini (Lancaster)
  • Dr Jessi Lehman (Durham)
  • Dr Elizabeth Johnson (Durham)

The workshop venue has availability for 40 participants. If you are interested in registering for this event, please do so via this online registration portal.

Organisers:

Andrew Baldwin (Durham)

Matilda Fitzmaurice (Durham)

Contact w.a.baldwin@durham.ac.uk; matilda.j.fitzmaurice@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

Download this event in iCalendar format