Conference: Power and Space in the Drone Age

Power and Space in the Drone Age

Two-day international workshop, Institute of Geography, Neuchâtel University, Switzerland

27-28 August 2015

Organizers: Francisco Klauser and Silvana Pedrozo, Institute of Geography, Neuchâtel University

Today, a variety of surveillant technologies that were hardly accessible previously to the public are becoming cheaper and more sophisticated at an exponential rate. This includes drones. In Switzerland, 20,000 drones are currently estimated to be in public and private use. The resulting proliferation of aerial control raises a series of critical questions. These range from the changing regimes of visibility across urban and rural space to the novel dynamics of power, counterpower and resistance implied by contemporary drone developments. In approaching these issues, the workshop places centrally the concepts of space and power. Drones are hereby approached as techniques of power that are intrinsically bound up with space: they combine various geographical scales and spatial logics of control; they offer novel ways of monitoring, following and orchestrating flows of people and objects; and they allow the administration of wider urban areas and border regions. At the same time they create a parallel world of control rooms in which ‘drone surveillance’ is put into action. Thus the workshop starts from the basic assumption that a distinct ‘spatial curiosity’ and ‘power sensitivity’ are required to understand the logics, functioning and implications of drones in the present-day world.

Workshop topics

There is now a growing social–scientific literature that focuses on drones in military conflict. In contrast, civil and commercial applications of drones have remained widely unnoticed in academic research. Addressing this research lacuna, the workshop encourages reflection on differing applications, interests and actors in the field of drone surveillance, in order to generate a wider picture of how drones interact with space today, and of what power issues this raises. We welcome submissions on any aspect of this broad area, but would particularly encourage papers in relation to the following subthemes:

• Drones in urban and rural environments
• Democratization of vertical control, as exemplified by private and commercial drones
• The imbrications between drone surveillance and sociospatial imaginaries
• Changing regimes of visibility in the drone age
• Drones and the management of mobilities
• Spatialities of the drone
• Drones, social exclusion and power
• Etc.

Guest speakers

Confirmed keynote lectures will be given by:

• Peter Adey, Royal Holloway University of London, UK
• Jeremy Crampton, University of Kentucky, US
• Stuart Elden, University of Warwick, UK
• Ole Jensen, University of Aalborg, DK
• Ian Shaw, Glasgow University, UK

Abstract submission and registration:

Please forward your abstracts of a maximum of 400 words by 31 January 2015 to Silvana Pedrozo (

It is expected that selected papers of the workshop will be published in a theme issue of Geographical Helvetica, the Swiss journal of Geography (open access from 2015).

A detailed programme will be posted online from 1 May 2015 at

For registration and further details with regard to travel, accommodation, meals etc., please contact Noémie Béguelin Caudoux at Deadline for registration: 31 July 2015.


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