Geographies of No-Man’s Lands: materiality, genealogy and agency

Call for Papers: Royal Geographical Society with IBG Annual Conference, London, 27-29 August 2014.

Session organisers: Dr Alasdair Pinkerton (Royal Holloway University of London) and Dr Noam Leshem (Durham University)

(Cosponsored by the Political Geography Research Group and the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group)

This session seeks papers that open up new critical engagement with the no-man’s lands of the 20th and 21st century. Our agenda is to critically explore the genealogies, spatialities and agencies, which emerge from empirical and conceptual no-man’s lands. We are interested in challenging the ambiguity that has come to cloud ‘No Man’s Land’ and to insert new intellectual rigour into its scholarly application. With its origins in medieval England to describe disputed territories between fiefdoms, ‘no-man’s land’ is now most readily associated with the materially decimated tract of earth that divided British and German trenches during the First World War. But the story of no-man’s land does end in 1918. Mechanised war and subsequent ‘diplomatic’ resolutions have created a variety of no-man’s lands, from demilitarized zones to disputed border regions. Other areas have been condemned as no-man’s lands because of environmental disasters and ruination. The 30km exclusion zone around Chernobyl is perhaps the most obvious example, but evacuated mining towns from North America to Australia offer equally important insights into the production of such spaces.

Inspired by the intellectual rigour invested in the term in the two decades that followed the First World War (by thinkers like Walter Benjamin and Ernst Jünger) we aim to explore the significance of no-man’s lands as a productive analytical concept for contemporary social, cultural and geo-political scholarship. We invite conceptual interventions and empirical reflections, past and present, as well as critical efforts to reflect on cases drawn from beyond the Euro-American experience.

Papers may explore:

  • processes through which no-man’s lands are produced, enforced and/or resisted (including, for example ideas of enclosure and abandonment, urban and biopolitical governance);
  • the social life of no-man’s lands, including the agencies and mobilities of those who inhabit (or disinhabit) these spaces;
  • critical archaeologies and geopolitical anthropologies;
  • materialities and ecologies;
  • creative and artistic practices of intervention and representation of no-man’s lands;
  • genealogies and histories that expand or exceed the WWI paradigm;
  • theoretical and methodological reflections.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Dr Noam Leshem ( by Friday 7 February 2014. A special journal issue is planned from the sessions. Please indicate in your email if you would like to participate in this.


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