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Message posted on 13/03/2023

CfP for RGS-IBG 2023: Toward a political ecology of volume

Dear EASST members,

Please find below the call for papers for our organised session at the RBS-IBG annual conference to be held in London from August 29-Sept 1, 2023. We welcome STS oriented papers engaging with the themes below.

Deadline this Friday March 17th.

Best wishes, Matt

Toward a Political Ecology of Volume

Session organisers: Ariadne Collins (University of St Andrews); Lydia Cole (University of St. Andrews); Theo Reeves-Evison (Birmingham School of Art); Matt Barlow (University of St Andrews)

Call for papers

Following Eldens call to secure the volume (2013), there has been a turn in critical geography, the social sciences and the environmental humanities more broadly toward three-dimensional volumes rather than two-dimensional areas. Much of these studies aim to critique, or better understand, state based surveillance and security measures above and below the ground (Bill 2020). While these studies advance volumetric analysis in a number of generative ways, they leave aside an analysis that engages with a political ecology of volume. What we propose here, is a political ecology that is attendant to the ways in which both extraction and conservation are increasingly realised through volumetric practices. Such a political ecology of volume would extend current research on volumes, while simultaneously moving political ecology further beyond its terrestrial bias (Mostafanezhad and Dressler, 2021). These expanding geographies call for a milieu specific analysis that is attuned to volume and questions the materiality and territoriality of spatial claims (Jue 2020). For example, how might a volumetric analysis of fracking help to uncover the ways it threatens underground aquifers that move far beyond territorialised allocations of Earths surface at the same time as it contributes to climate change?

We put forward this call as the global commons, such as outer reaches of the Earths atmosphere and the deep seas, become increasingly appropriated in ways that often reproduce colonial asymmetries (Blount 2018, Hung and Lien 2022). All this at a time when governments are adopting new spatial and temporal arrangements in attempts to offset the accumulation of atmospheric carbon. Amid these interwoven and unevenly distributed localised, international, planetary, subterranean and atmospheric practices, a renewed volumetric analysis is crucial for a political ecology within climate changed geographies. We welcome papers from any discipline engaged with these themes, but especially those that engage critically with a political ecology that is committed to addressing the historically embedded asymmetries of colonial and capitalist frontiers. Some examples of relevant themes are:

  • Volumetric approaches to extraction and/or conservation

  • Geographies of outer space

  • Oceanic geographies

  • Three dimensional cartographies and visual cultures of volume

  • Methods and technologies of atmospheric apprehension

  • Atmospheric and/or volumetric governance

  • Political ecologies of volume and the global commons

  • Three dimensional borders and zones

  • Offsetting and volumetric approaches to climate change

  • Inter-scalar geographies

  • Voluminous frontier geographies

If you are interested in presenting a paper at this session, please send a 250 word abstract, including your name, affiliation, and preferred presentation mode (in-person/hybrid) to Matt Barlow ( by Friday 17th of March, 2023.


Bill, F. 2020. Voluminous States: Sovereignty, Materiality, and the Territorial Imagination. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Blount, P.J. 2018. Outer Space and International Geography: Article II and the Shape of Global Order. New England Law Review. 52(2): 95-124.

Elden, S. 2013. Secure the volume: Vertical geopolitics and the depth of power. Political Geography. 34: 35-51.

Hung, Po-Yi and Yu-Hsiu Lien. 2022. Maritime borders: A reconsideration of state power and territorialities over the ocean. Progress in Human Geography. 46(3): 870889.

Jue, M. 2020. Wild Blue Media:Thinking Through Seawater. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Mostafanezhad, M. and Dressler, W., 2021. Violent atmospheres: Political ecologies of livelihoods and crises in Southeast Asia. Geoforum, 124, pp.343-347.

[University of St Andrews]

Matt Barlow Research Fellow School of International Relations

The Arts Faculty Building, The Scores, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AX

+44 (0)7939652090

[Good University Guide 2022 - Ranked first in the United Kingdom][Guardian Number 1 University 2023]

The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland, No: SC013532

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