Molecular Revolutions: between thought and desire

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Virginia A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Organizers: Nina Williams, Joe Gerlach, Andrew Lapworth
Chairs: Thomas Jellis


“I believe that there is a collective, unformed search, from above and below, for another kind of politics. This is what I call ‘micropolitics’, and ‘molecular revolution’. It begins with very immediate, daily, individual preoccupations, yet remains connected to what happens at the social level, and even, why not, at the cosmic level. ... Obviously it is something quite different from ... radical socialism. But if it is not political, what is it?” (Guattari 2009: 138)

What are the relations between thought and revolution? What, in Felix Guattari’s (2016: 60) terms, “makes desire work in a group .... makes a theory work, an experiment, an art form?” Eliding the impulse to suture heroic theoretical treatises with insurrectionist political movements, this session examines revolutions that resonate at, and are generative of, molecular registers of existence. Thought, thinking, and theory are diagrammed, here, as instantiations of molecular revolutions. To that end, we encourage interventions that animate the significance of theory as immanent to molecular revolution. Like Guattari, we are wary of spelling revolution with a capital R, as things happen by way of successive modifications. But we want to explore the relation between a politics of desire (for relevant/useful/timely theory, say) and a politics of revolution. In other words, given the contraction of space in which to theorise in contemporary geography, and the attendant antipathy displayed toward theory that does not yield results, we want to state calmly that this represents a chance for theoretical work: to re-think what thought might be.

Across the disciplinary continuum, geographical interest in the molecular has grown apace (Braun 2007; Davies 2011; Mantooth and Riddle 2011; Merriman 2018; Pykett 2018), not least in non-representational styles of working where a turn to the molecular does not signal a shift in scalar resolution, nor a reduction of thought to the biological or somatic individual (Rose 2000), but a methodological orientation toward preindividual affects and nonhuman materialities (Latham and McCormack 2004; McCormack 2007; McHugh and Kitson 2018; Simpson 2018). In this session we want to stretch this interest in the molecular to think about how it might coincide with questions of revolution, thought, and the theoretical in geography. In the spirit of molecular revolution, we hope to explore what kind of repetitions in thought have the potential to disrupt or suspend disciplinary habits and practices. Or, in other words, what kinds of repetition bring about the irreversible? To expand on Guattari’s terms, in which a “molecular revolution consists in producing conditions not only for collective life but also for the embodiment of life for oneself” (2008: 63), we might also gesture towards how such molecular revolutions condition the grounds of thought itself, and especially so in a discipline increasingly enervated by theoretical work-outs.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Joe Gerlach*, University of Bristol, Nina Williams*, University of Bristol, Andrew Lapworth, University of Bristol, Thomas Jellis, University of Oxford, Assaying Molecular Thresholds 20 5:00 PM
Presenter Theo Parker*, University of Bristol, Deleuze and Guattari’s geophilosophy; contingency and the molecular intensification of thought 20 5:20 PM
Presenter Eugenia Carlota De La Herran Iriarte*, UNSW Canberra ADFA, A colouring revolution? A Deluezian encounter with Katharina Grosse's abstract landscapes of sensation 20 5:40 PM
Presenter Oliver Dawson*, University of Bristol, Poetry as Molecular Disobedience 20 6:00 PM
Presenter James Ash*, Newcastle University, Molecular Subjects? On change, form and the spatiality of difference 20 6:20 PM

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