In the early hours of Friday, November 15, 2019, Iranian state television broadcasted a message from the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution company, stating that, effective immediately, gas would be rationed across the country in addition to a fifty-percent increase to its price. Within twenty-four hours, there were protests in dozens of cities across Iran, in response to which the state-deployed riot police and security forces to quell them by any means necessary.
Twenty years have passed since the battles of Seattle when tens of thousands of protestors confronted the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its Third Ministerial meeting. For many geographers of my generation (at least in the US and Canada) the protests on November 30, 1999 (N30), constitute one of the high-water marks of left political activist organizing—an event that raised hopes for a radically different world. Although our hopes were not realized, the twentieth anniversary of these events provides an occasion for reflection.
For urban geographers and those in allied disciplines, particularly urban planners, Manuel Castells occupies a crucial position in the canon. The trajectory of his work allows a unique bridge between explicitly spatial questions like urban social movements and the otherwise despatialized dynamics of cyberspace, or the network society of global information communication technology.
The first great disruption in subsistence communities happened 12 000 years ago with the emergence of agriculture. Before that, roaming bands of hunter-gatherers were bound to the whims of scarce nature and its bounty. This all changed with the technology of crop cultivation and the new abilities of transforming the soil for food production.
The remaining six essays take us to the limits of territorial sovereignty, from the uppermost layers of the atmosphere to inhospitable spaces beyond the human. In all these cases we see the logic of territorial sovereignty stretched to its limits, yet remaining tied to—and defined by—a resolutely terrestrial logic.
First deployed in West Queensland, Australia, Alphabet’s (formerly Google) Project Loon is flying balloons—essentially elevated cell phone towers—over Indonesia to provide internet to those who do not have it or cannot afford it. The Indonesian government is working with Alphabet as well as funding the start-up company Helion to make Indonesia a world leader in the use of balloons to deliver the internet.
The perceived color of the sky is determined by three interrelated factors: sunlight composed of many different wavelengths, molecules in the earth’s atmosphere that scatter light, and the sensitivity of the human eye. Conventional wisdom holds that the characteristics of sunlight and the atmosphere are an immutable fact of nature. However, China’s government has engaged in a campaign that seeks to control local meteorological conditions to produce blue skies on command, a phenomenon referred to here as “blueskying.”
Writing on the heels of the First World War and at the advent of the Irish War of Independence, William Butler Yeats used the concept of the gyre as an unstoppable, terrifying dynamic force. A gyre, in his poem, destabilizes the relation between human and nonhuman others, beginning as an aerial vortex and expanding to an oceanic “blood-dimmed tide.”
In the early morning of 5 September 1962 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, two police officers on their routine patrol discovered a 20-pound piece of metal buried three inches deep into the asphalt of 8th Street. Though they initially ignored what they took to be a metal ingot from a local plant, radio news reports of the disintegration of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik IV over the United States made them reconsider the origin of the object.
Four essays in this collection examine volumetric sovereignty through the prism of the body—both human and nonhuman. In her contribution, Nayanika Mathur looks at animal incursions across the China-India border. In a high-altitude border zone such as this, at around 16,000 feet above sea-level, the “foreigners” that enter and exit tend to be nonhuman animals.
On July 25th, 2017, a Chinese “incursion” into a Himalayan pasture land called Barahoti was widely reported by the Indian media. Coming in the wake of a tense Himalayan border fracas to the east of Barahoti in a place called Doklam that is located at the tri-junction of India, China, and Bhutan, the claims of yet another territorial breach provoked an uproar in India’s increasingly hyper-nationalistic news media.
From late 2015 through early 2016, a new vector-borne epidemic swept across the Americas, the Pacific, and much of Southeast Asia, bringing new attention to questions of connection across different spaces, species, and sociopolitical orders. Like both dengue and West Nile, Zika virus is passed from person to person by mosquitoes, primarily Aedes aegypti.
People in Nicaragua with a form of progressive renal failure called chronic kidney disease of non-traditional causes (CKDnt) talk in volumes about their condition. I don’t mean that they go on and on about their aches and pains. Most of the thousands of CKDnt patients in Nicaragua were sugarcane plantation workers until they got sick.
Sovereignty has long extended through the thermal world. The manipulation of heat fueled industrial production and transportation, expanding the reach of national and colonial forces. The labor of bodies has been managed through the deployment of food and the implicit regulation of metabolisms, as well as the mass thermal communications of air conditioning. The boundaries of cities, nations, and empires have been enforced through thermal violence, whether the dumping of indigenous people on the frozen prairie or the blasting of prisoners with water cannons in subzero temperatures.
Related to McGlynn's contribution, a second subset of essays focuses specifically on the materiality of the soil, the subsoil, and the subsurface. Exploring the notion of turbulence in the context of the recent earthquake in Nepal’s Langtang Valley, Austin Lord defines turbulence as violent encounters with “inhuman nature,” but also with ongoing and more subtle forms of harm, such as “gradual erosion, glacial deformations, seeping patterns of contagion, and the atmospheric unknowns of climate change.”
The last five years have witnessed a veritable efflorescence of publications on the topic of volume. A seminal intervention that appears to have given the impetus for much of this “volumetric turn” was Stuart Elden’s 2013 paper, Secure the Volume, in which he argued for the necessity to rethink geography in terms of volumes rather than areas.
February and March 2018 brought a mass walkout on UK university campuses over pension reform, but also state-wide teachers’ strikes in West Virginia, university campus strikes in Canada, ongoing struggles to unionise US university campuses, student walk-outs in US high schools over gun violence and upcoming strikes in Kentucky and Oklahoma.
The echoes of the mass sexual assaults during the New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Cologne and other German cities continue to reverberate through international public, political and academic debates. In Germany, they represented a testing ground for the country’s refugee politics and “Willkommenskultur,” the much promoted welcoming attitude to refugees.
In response to the protests that swept Istanbul in mid-2013, Society and Space solicited the following commentaries on these events.
Since March 2012, students across Quebec have been on strike against tuition hikes proposed by the provincial government. This strike, now the longest running student strike in Quebec history, has spurred on province wide protests that have been met with continual police action and legislation to curtail the right to public assembly. Below, we offer several commentaries from students and scholars on these events.
A special review forum on Mustafa Dikeç’s Space, Politics and Aesthetics, published by Edinburgh University Press as part of its "Taking on the Political" book series. The review forum includes contributions by David Featherstone, Gillian Rose, Japhy Wilson, Mark Jackson, and Nigel Clark. The reviews are followed by a response from Mustafa Dikeç.
This article considers how notions of space shape Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer series and its thesis of sovereign violence. To do so, it examines the paradigm as Agamben’s principal methodological tool and theoretical frame.
In an effort to reinvigorate a dialogue about these crucial but underplayed concepts, and in an effort to push a micropolitical ethos in and of itself, we introduce a forum composed of six short interventions by geographers engaged in matters of the minor and micropolitical.
Writings that critically engage the ongoing conditions of coloniality and its effects. Entries in this section may also speculate on intellectual, political and organizational tactics that work to resist coloniality, colonization and colonialism’s effects in the present.
Examines the evolving social, ecological, cultural and geopolitical impacts of energy systems and resource extraction, with particular emphasis on the spatial relationships that structure the extraction, production, distribution and consumption of energy and other natural resources and raw materials
Chronicles past, present, and potential impacts of technoscientific development on the production of space. Provides critical looks into how scientific disciplines and industries influence how we analyze, categorize, experience, interpret, navigate, and represent that which we call space.
Investigates the spatial implications of the mass production, consumption, and disposal of digital media. Core areas of study include the environmental impacts, industrial landscapes, infrastructures, political transformations, social activities, and subjectivities particular to the digital age.
Charts the role that maps and various other forms of geo-visualisation play in the production of space. Offers a critical forum for investigating older modes of cartographic representation as well as newer approaches to big data and the politics of algorithmic and other data-driven processes.
Investigates relations between policing (narrowly and broadly understood), incarceration, and the production of space and spatial knowledge. Borders, criminalized neighborhoods, detention centers, heavily securitized areas, internment camps, jails, prisons, rendition sites, and the spatial relations that they rely on and produce are explored as sites of power and subversion.