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Thinking with Portals I

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 1:45 PM / 3:00 PM (MDT)
Room: Virtual Track 4
Organizers: Katherine Sammler, Lily House-Peters
Chairs: Katherine Sammler


This session emerges from and seeks to further expand upon exciting work in geography on spaces beyond, beneath, through, and above traditional terrestrial/ surface concerns. In recent years, AAG paper sessions have delved into new ontological and epistemological territory as geographers think with alternative spacetime formulations revealed through increasing attention to the subterranean, holey space, the underground, the ocean, the atmosphere, and outer space, and evolving conceptualizations of terrain, volumetrics, and porosity.

In this session, we aim to push the theoretical and empirical boundaries of geophysical materialities towards thinking new geometries and geographies of spacetime through the analytic of the portal. In Euclidean geometry the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, however, other geometries of space utilize a calculus of folding, compressing, bending, disruption, curvature, discontinuities, intersecting parallels, and singularities. We enact the portal to imagine theorizations capable of considering spacetimes alterities, where distant spaces, places, matters, affects, and temporalities become connected through breakdowns of linear time and challenges to Euclidean geometries.

We seek papers that introduce new theoretical formulations and papers that apply existing frameworks in novel ways to center portals, passages, conduits, tubes, tunnels, sinkholes, pits, craters and other holes that trouble, while problematizing and rethinking assumed, accepted, default, or common orientations, such as vertical hierarchies of above/below, up/down, here/there, before/after, smooth/striated, etc. These re-orientations aim to imagine new ways that social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental geographies can rupture classical understandings of spacetime and produce new worlds and new ways of being.

While the study of space and place in geography has a rich history of exploring other ways of being in space -- through time-space compression, bubbles and spheres, kinship and relationality -- there is a tendency to revert to a default theoretical orientation toward flatness and linearity when spacetime is not explicitly considered. Taking spacetime as an explicit object of investigation reveals varying parameters of pressure, mixing, rupture, acceleration, density, relationality, masslessness, and hyper-dimensions.

Possible Questions/ Topics to think with: We are interested in engaging critical theory from broad and diverse lines of inquiry and analysis, including (but not limited to) new materialisms, more-than-human theory, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, object-oriented ontology, affect theory, and indigenous, anti-colonial, anti-racist, and queer and trans thought. We welcome papers that consider and imagine spacetime formulations and their ruptures through and beyond:
Negative space: openings, lack, mines, boreholes, tubes, tunnels, bunkers, caves
Movement, distance, and flows: ports, lines of flight, maelstroms, vortexes, wormholes, particles, data, media
(Planetary) bodies and spatial orientations: gravity, accelerations, viscera, apertures, rifts, gashes, craters, Cthulhu

Ahmed, S. Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. Duke University Press, Durham, NC.
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Duke University Press, Durham, NC.
Barad, K. (2015). Transmaterialities: Trans*/matter/realities and queer political imaginings. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, pages 387–422.
Bennet, J. (2010). Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, Durham, NC.
Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN.
Elden, S. (2013). Secure the volume: Vertical geopolitics and the depth of power. Political Geography, 34:35–51.
Haraway, D. J. (2016). Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press, Durham, NC.
Rifkin, M. (2017). Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination. Duke University Press, Durham, N.C.
Squire, R. and Dodds, K. (2019). Introduction to the special issue: Subterranean geopolitics. Geopolitics, pages 1–13.
Steinberg, P. E. and Peters, K. (2015). Wet ontologies, fluid spaces: giving depth to volume through oceanic thinking. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 33:247–264.
Sloterdijk, P. (2011, 2014, 2016) Spheres Trilogy: Bubbles, Globes, Foams. Semiotext(e)/ Foreign Agents, France.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Lily House-Peters*, California State University, Long Beach, Mining from Nowhere: New Geographies of SpaceTime Compression in the World’s Autonomous Mining Technology Testing Ground in Western Australia 15 1:45 PM
Presenter Garrett Johnson*, Ititit{inc}, Brandon Mechtley, ititit{inc}, Jonathan Bratt*, Arizona State University, Portacular Resonances: Radiophonic Fields as Socioinformatics 15 2:00 PM
Presenter Andrea Ballestero*, Rice University, The Plume: movement and mixture in subterranean water worlds 15 2:15 PM
Discussant Harriet Hawkins Royal Holloway, University of London 15 2:30 PM
Presenter Erin Clancy*, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Contending with Affective Forces of Trauma and Body Topologies in Anorexia and Bulimia 15 2:45 PM

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