RGS-IBG 2019 Geographies of Trouble/ Geographies of Hope
Sponsored by the RGS Political Geography Research Group
Conveners: Daisy Sutcliffe and Deborah Dixon, University of Glasgow
The Anthropocene – broadly outlined as a fossil-fuelled, planetary condition that has a continually updated geosynchronous signal of anthropogenic radionuclides and plastics, and a raft of rapidly intensifying exposures, vulnerabilities and securitizations – has afforded troubling times for Geologists and other exponents of an Earthly deep time. To tell time is a telling act (Swanson 2016), as accounting for the anthropocentric forcing of physical processes transforms Geology into a science of attribution with profound political consequence, identifying not only where, when and whom will be exposed, but also from where, when, and by whom (Rudiak-Gould 2015). What is more, and despite its theological controversies, Geology has traditionally provided a measure of surety about the world, and the place of humanity within it (O’Connor 2017). Geosynchronicity places materials within a stratigraphic record, and as such is a key product of a 19th century Geologic imperialism that effectively projected an evental history on to the planet itself. Where Geologists once looked to the subterranean for evidence as to a planetary history, the Anthropocene has inverted this gaze. Carbon-fuelled economies have poured materials upwards and outwards, warming oceans and atmospheres in the process. Deep time is no longer to be told from vertiginous field sites alone, but from vast, proliferating drifts of matter that permeate alongside, beyond and within bodies. It is this geologic subtending of life on Earth that has helped prompt a critical return to the ‘geo-‘ of geopolitics (Bobette & Donovan 2018), and a questioning of what kind of ‘geopolitics’ emerges when melting, fracturing, dissolution, calcification, crystallisation, subducting and so on are envisioned not as external threats or triggers, nor even as standing reserves for an evolutionary-based life, but as an Earthly vitalism that can and does proceed otherwise.
This session seeks to explore the politics and geopolitics of an Earthly vitalism. We welcome papers or other formats that consider any of the following suggestions, or that contribute to this discussion in other ways:
- How has Geology as a discipline been enabled by, and promulgated, an imperial world order? And, what understandings of the lithic stand outside of/challenge such an imperialism?
- How does Geology as a science of attribution trouble politics? And how do politics trouble Geology?
- In what ways does the geology that we conserve as ‘heritage’ reveal and influence politics?
- How does a stratigraphic geologic imaginary allow for and enable the congealing of other imaginaries of life on Earth? And how might non-stratigraphic accounts trouble these?
- What are the ramifications of a geological subtending for debates on order and chaos, violence and security, creativity and destruction?
Please send abstracts or proposals of up to 250 words and a short biography including name(s) and affiliation(s) to Daisy Sutcliffe: email@example.com by 6pm on February 11th.
Bobbette, Adam & Donovan, Amy (eds.). 2018. Political Geology: Active Stratigraphies and the Making of Life. Palgrave.
O’Connor, Ralph. 2017. Earth on Show. University of Chicago Press: Chicago ILL.
Rudiak-Gould, Peter. 2015. The social life of blame in the Anthropocene. Environment and Society 6.1: 48-65.
Swanson, Heather Anne. 2016. Anthropocene as political geology: Current debates over how to tell time. Science as Culture 25.1: 157-163.