CFP: Biopolitics

A(nother) Call For Papers for the next RGS – IBG in Exeter 2-4 September 2015, for a session sponsored by the Political Geography Research Group (Pol GRG).


Circulating Approaches to Biopolitics in the Anthropocene

Christine Schenk; Juliet Fall. University of Geneva, Switzerland

Biopolitics, as a term and as an idea, has captured the imagination of many social scientists, appearing to promise no less than to bridge scholarship on power, space and vibrant, material life. Geographers have specifically seized upon Michel Foucault’s use of the term biopolitics to think about the practices of governance; or have made productive use of Giorgio Agamben’s biopolitical approaches to write about bare life and states of exception; or have drawn from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire to think about new multitudes, often in constructive dialogue with other concepts such as territory, governmentality or biopower. Other authors, such as Thomas Lemke in Germany, or Roberto Esposito and Paolo Virno in Italy have enjoyed more limited international success within geography, not least because of varied availability of English-language translations. Each of these distinct and shifting understandings of biopolitics has emerged in a different context and time, responding to specifically-situated debates. Each offers a different takes on the term biopolitics and could contribute to thinking through what the Anthropocene might shape up to be as an idea, an epoch and a place.

The aim of this session is to continue to take the diversity of these situated approaches seriously, while simultaneously exploring whether and how they might provide tools for thinking about the bios on the scale of the Anthropocene.

We are specifically interested in papers that resonate with the question of ‘how should we live’ (Castree 2014, The Anthropocene and Geography III: Future Directions), reaching out to forms of affirmative biopolitics (Hannah 2011; Blencowe 2012) and biopolitical solidarity (Hannah 2011; Rutherford S &P 2013) that lead to new forms of social and spatial justice.

We therefore seek contributions that:

  •       critically interrogate the variety of theoretical strands on biopolitics in the French, Italian and German traditions,
  •       offer historically and contextually situated histories of the idea of biopolitics, and empirical explorations of these,
  •       link up to contemporary writing on biosecurity and governance,
  •       engage with notion of truth-seeking in terms of a planetary biopolitics that reconfigures the government of the living (such as within Foucault’s writing on aléthurgie).
  •       think through the spatialities and materialities of planetary biopolitics in the Anthropocene,
  •       explore conceptually and/or empirically biopolitical regimes of governing more-than-human populations on a planetary scale
  •       consider the biopolitical predicaments of a unpredictable and volatile earth.

Please send your proposed abstract (about 250 words) to Christine Schenk ( or Juliet Fall ( before the 11th February.

Further details of the conference can be found here.



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