RGS-IBG CfP: Surveilling Global Space

RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, University of Exeter, 2-4 September 2015
Call for Papers: Surveilling Global Space

Co-Sponsored by the History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group & Transport Geography Research Group

Convener:
Weiqiang Lin

National University of Singapore (and University of Toronto)

weiqiang@nus.edu.sg
This session explores the cultural and historical subjection of global or large-scale spaces to practices of surveillance in the last century.

While recent years have most conspicuously seen growing scholarly interest in the surveillance of human mobility across international borders, there has so far been little sustained effort in examining how a wide range of other global geographies—including those involving nonhuman mobilities and circulations—can likewise be a target of such methods of scrutiny. Arguably, these social techniques of control are responsible for the creation of a variety of new, expansive spatial categories that are deemed ‘risky’ and ‘globally’ actionable. They also impel particular responses from powerful states/parties, and strategic anticipations aimed at containing the said risks.

Prospective papers germane to this session will open themselves up to these (other) global geographies of surveillance. Specifically, they will interrogate what these practices of watching, sorting and ordering—over extensive fields—mean to the imagination of globality and space. Apart from human mobility regimes, suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the survey and organisation of airspaces, oceans and logistical chains in transport; military reconnaissance and global satellite applications; the monitoring of transboundary pollution, atmospheres, biospheres, and habitats as part of climate change or environmental action; and the management of sensitive data and transactions in electronically wired industries such as finance and media. This session aims to uncover how the invention and appropriation of these spaces have (re)shaped social life in a time of globalisation. It is also concerned with the power asymmetries and material effects of these surveillance techniques, as indelible features of the late Anthropocene.

A sample (but non-exhaustive) list of questions to probe in this session is suggested below:

  • How is surveillance enacted, practised and technologised at a large or global scale?
  • What surfaces, terrains, environments and geographies have come to be approached as ‘global’, ‘international’, and ‘common’ (e.g. the air, oceans, virtual world maps)?
  • Which subjects, objects, organisms or materials are deliberately made visible and rendered liable to methods of calculation?
  • What is the (geo)politics of such methods of surveillance? Is there a dominant view or an imperial ideology?
  • How is surveillance imbricated with key ‘global’ issues today, such as climate change, transboundary pollution, war and insecurity, international supply chains, transport safety etc.?
  • How do practices of surveillance (re)shape imaginations or philosophies of ‘globality’ through time?

The convenor welcomes abstracts of no more than 250 words to be emailed to weiqiang@nus.edu.sg by Monday, 9th February 2015. Kindly include your name, affiliation and email address, and where possible begin the subject header of your email with [RGS-IBG SGS].

All research areas including, but not limited to, transport, geopolitics, cyber studies, environmental studies and cultural geography will be considered. Thank you.

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