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New Directions in Subterranean Geopolitics (1)

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Political Geography Specialty Group
Organizers: Chih Yuan Woon, Klaus Dodds, Ian Klinke
Chairs: Chih Yuan Woon


This proposed session will broach the interface between the subterranean and geopolitical. Subterranean geopolitics, as a starting proposition, is one that is attentive to the material and imaginative. It builds on an interdisciplinary body of work that have sought to re-evaluate the flatness of geopolitical and cartographic imaginaries. Within geography, scholars have insisted that geopolitics needs to account for and investigate the depth dimensions of human and more-than-human life. To put it another way, they are interested in how understandings of the politics of space morph and change when depths alongside surfaces are brought into conversation. This research inquiry has opened up opportunities for the interrogation of several pertinent questions: how can we grasp and understand such (sub-surface and ‘lesser known’) spaces? How are they rendered visible and sensible as opposed to being invisible and incomprehensible? How are they being subjected to various forms of control and exploitation? Are subterranean encounters also characterized by counter-movements and resistance politics?

This session welcomes both conceptual and empirical engagements with subterranean geopolitics. Presentations can draw on a number of thematic directions such as, but not limited to:

•The constructions, representations and imaginations of subterranean geopolitics in official discourses and popular cultural mediums
•The elemental qualities (e.g. air, rocks and water) that shape and impact upon the ‘playing out’ of subterranean geopolitics
•The institutional, legal and political arrangements that govern subterranean geopolitics and the resultant resistances and challenges
•Living and experiencing subterranean geopolitics and their affective/emotional dimensions
•Methodologies to research and negotiate the complexities of subterranean geopolitics


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Klaus Dodds*, Royal Holloway, University of London, Thermal geopolitics? Arctic futures and the contested materiality of frozen soils and sea ice 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Manuel Mendez*, Université de Rennes 2, Manuel Prieto, Universidad Católica del Norte (Chile), The Atacama Desert as a Miningscape: The Subterranean Entanglements of Science, States and Mining in Tarapacá, Northern Chile (1830-1930). 15 12:00 AM
Presenter James Riding*, Newcastle University, The geopolitics of exhumation and interment: excavating mass graves and identifying the disappeared in post-genocide Bosnia and Herzegovina 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Chi-Mao Wang*, National Taiwan University, Taiwan (R.O.C.), Securing the subterranean volumes? Geometrics, land subsidence and the materialities of things 15 12:00 AM
Discussant Ian Klinke 15 12:00 AM

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