CfP RGS 2016: Ice, water, rock, sand, and silt: ‘Unearthing’ a Subterranean Geopolitics

Klaus Dodds and I are co-convening a session at this years RGS conference. We’re hoping for some interesting discussions and welcome papers from a range of disciplines that speak to some of the questions and ideas outlined below in the call for papers:

Ice, water, rock, sand, and silt: ‘Unearthing’ a Subterranean Geopolitics

Sponsored by the RGS Political Geography Research Group.

Convenors: Rachael Squire (Royal Holloway University of London) and Klaus Dodds (Royal Holloway University of London)

Amidst a growing interest in the materialities agenda and ideas pertaining to ‘volume’ (Elden 2013), this session seeks to ‘unearth’ some of the subsurface spaces that have remained recalcitrant to the (critical) geopolitical gaze. Whilst it is now acknowledged that materials such as air, ice, water, rock, sand, and silt ‘matter’ to geopolitical discourse (Adey 2015, Bakker 201), the call to take seriously the subterranean within critical geopolitics arguably still ‘comes across as a provocation’ and a challenge (Clark 2013).  Numerous questions remain about the vitality of these spaces and materials in critical geopolitics, for example:

How have materials such as ice, rock, and water been imagined, carved, manipulated, managed, and negotiated to meet geopolitical objectives?

How are certain material, symbolic, scientific and cultural meanings ascribed to the subterranean and to what effect?

How are these space securitised and, in turn, how do they provoke insecurity?

How might a subterranean geopolitics reveal hidden and shine light on visible struggles over issues such as conservation and extraction?

How are certain actors, bodies, and expertise enrolled in a subterranean geopolitics?

How are myths, imaginaries of fear, the ‘unknown’, and ‘underworlds’ implicit in and resultant of a subterranean geopolitics?

In responding to these questions (and others), the session aims to bring some of the geological and geophysical complexities of subterranean spaces into a lively conversation with the (critical) geopolitical. We welcome papers that explore these intersectional registers from a wide range of relevant disciplines and encourage a creative and interdisciplinary approach.

Abstracts of max. 250 words should be sent to and by Monday 15 February 2016

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