About

The politics and matter research cluster was formed in early 2012 by an enthusiastic group of Human Geographers at the University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences. The group researches an ongoing geographical concern for the shifting relationships between the human and its contemporary environments. By bringing cutting-edge theory, innovative empirics, and creative methodologies together, we seek to complicate constricting and static conceptions of human action and experience. Our work participates in wider interdisciplinary turns toward nonhuman agencies, vital materialisms, hybrid ecologies, machinisms, affect, biopolitics, process ontologies, and assemblage theory. Our key concerns are:

  • How do emergent assemblages of matter reconfigure our thinking about the material world?
  • In what ways do these ‘new materialisms’ trouble the authority of human agents, given our embroilment within nonhuman relations?
  • What are the implications of these theoretical interventions for our understandings of politics, ethics, economies, ecologies, and collective life?

Members of the group are currently addressing these questions through a diverse array of sites and questions. These include: speculative encounters with the material ecologies of consumer spaces; the intersection of neuroscience and geography; craft and the political aesthetics of urban interventions; affective spaces of limit experience; the creative ‘shock’ of the art-encounter; tissue economies; embodied performativities; anarchist ethics and autonomous spaces; radical democracy and border technologies; and, the ethics of immanent materialism. Members of the group are active in publication, with recent research published, forthcoming, and invited in journals including: Environment and Planning A, Environment and Planning D, Cultural Geographies, Antipode, and Performance Research.

Members actively present, nationally and internationally, at disciplinary and interdisciplinary conferences. The politics and matter cluster are also part of various novel and exciting collaborative events. In 2011, the group played an active role in a pioneering international conference entitled ‘Spaces of Affect’, engaging with leading scholars from geography, political science and philosophy. This two-day event inspired a joint venture between Bristol geographers and the University of Wisconsin, with the ultimate aim of developing a trans-Atlantic forum for affect and biopolitics research. Politics and matter meet on a weekly basis to discuss research ideas and present paper drafts. These meetings are supplemented by the continental philosophy reading group whose members have recently focused on texts such as Sloterdijk’s Bubbles, Laruelle’s Introduction to Non-Philosophy and Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil.

We welcome interest in our research and activities. If you would like to participate with us, or for more information, please feel free to contact relevant individuals.

For general queries please contact: Dr Mark Jackson

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