(Re)assembling the Politics of the Everyday: Things and Materials in Geographical Analysis I

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Cultural Geography Specialty Group, Political Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Balcony B, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Organizers: Andrew Grant, Siddharth Menon
Chairs: Andrew Grant


Geographers and scholars in the social sciences and humanities are increasingly interrogating the social and political life of materials, ranging from smaller things like faucets, walls, and chairs to larger transnational infrastructure projects (Harvey et al. 2016; Anand et al. 2018). This approach is important for recalibrating scholarship so that political and social analyses can involve and attend to expansive notions of agency and responsibility (Bennett 2010). In our age of expansive urbanization, studying “sociomaterial assemblages” that include people and things, both organic and inorganic, is important for unpacking the everyday politics of life (McFarlane 2011).

Paying heed to Sarah Whatmore’s (2006) call for practicing a “more-than-human” geography, this panel aims to explore, through empirically grounded studies of everyday things and objects, the relationship between “sociotechnical assemblages” (Larkin 2008) and contemporary politics. Rather than focus on state mega-projects and macro-economic infrastructure effects, we invite micropolitical studies of things big and small. Possible paper themes include methodological explorations of the tension between traditional and modern house building materials and tools; day-to-day expectations about the success or failure of infrastructure provisions (e.g. Anand, 2011); resonances and dissonances in understandings of material promises (e.g. Anand et al. 2018); the role of things in memory and place-making; research that considers things and materials in relation to marginalized groups (gender, race, ethnicity, caste, tribal, indigenous, otherly-abled), and the intimate connection between deconstruction, reconstruction, and social worlds (e.g. Gordillo 2014). We encourage papers that explore both materials in all of their sensorial and energetic dimensions (Larkin 2013; Schwenkel 2015) and engage in conversations and literatures that speak across world regions and disciplinary divisions.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Nadine Plachta*, South Asia Institute, Garbage: Material sediments of the modern in highland Asia 20 2:00 PM
Presenter Deborah Jackson*, Earlham College, Sense and Sensibility: A Tourism Experience of Materials and Things in the Tar Sands of Alberta, Canada 20 2:20 PM
Presenter Siddharth Menon*, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, (Re)assessing the ethno in human geography: towards a technography of concrete 20 2:40 PM
Discussant Siddharth Menon -- Year -- 20 3:00 PM

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