Recent Publications: Schmitt and Space & Politics and the Anthropocene

horzon lassoo

Quick update on two papers that I recently had published in Progress in Human Geography.

The first, The Question of Space in Carl Schmitt, co-authored with Claudio Minca, provides the first overview of the role of space and spatial concepts throughout Schmitt’s work. This prefigures some of the work that we will expand in our forthcoming book On Schmitt and Space (Routledge), and some of the material I will be developing in forthcoming papers around Schmitt’s ‘geophilosophy’ and his eschatological theories of spatial history. I have included the abstract below:

In this paper we present an analysis of the German legal and political theorist Carl Schmitt as a spatial thinker whose work contains many elements relevant to the concerns of political geography. In examining his fundamental concern with how to ground modern political order without theological foundation, we identify a conceptual matrix between space, political order and conflict that underpins his thought. Charting the development of his spatial theory across his work, we focus on two key spatial moments from immediately before and after the Second World War: first, his theory of Großraum (‘greater space’) order as a reformulation of global order after the eclipse of the state and its complicated entanglements with Nazi spatial thinking and expansionism in eastern Europe; second, his notion of nomos, developed after the war to embrace both a geo-elemental spatial ontology and an account of the rise and fall of Eurocentric global order. We conclude by noting Schmitt’s failure to move beyond an understanding of order grounded on spatial division and his increasing retreat into eschatological fantasy as global spatio-political relations became increasingly more complex in the late 20th century.

The second, is a short piece ‘Notes on Politics After the Anthropocene’ that appeared as part of a forum, After the Anthropocene: Politics and geographic inquiry for a new epoch, edited by Harlan Morehouse and Elizabeth Johnson. The forum also includes work by Simon Dalby, Jessi Lehman and Sara Nelson, Stephanie Wakefield and Kathryn Yusoff, emerging from the Critical Climate Change conference at the University of Minneapolis (organized by Jessi and Sara) last April and the series of sessions around the Anthropocene that Elizabeth and Harlan organized at the American Association of Geographers in L.A. immediately afterwards. This is my first published work on the political dimensions of the Anthropocene – the over-arching concern that has been driving much of my work after the Schmitt project –  hence I’m very excited to see it come out, especially in such good company.

Steve Fuller on the Future of Politics: Left & Right or Green & Black?

It has been a quite a while since I have posted something on here. I’ve been buried deep in other projects but hope to make more frequent forays if time allows.
I thought this recent article by Steve Fuller was worth mentioning. Right and Left are Fading – the Future is Black and Green, as it reflects a number of questions I have been concerned with for some time, particularly the role how we might conceive of a politics with an orientation to the future and how the question of a specifically Left politics relates to the relationship between ecology and technology.
When anyone talks about moving beyond Left and Right our suspicions should be raised, given that its usually an ideological rouse by the Right to drag the centre of debate ever further towards itself. Indeed, the eclipse of old Left/Right distinctions have frequently been celebrated since the end of the Cold War, most often as part of an argument lauding the strengthening of the liberal centre. This has arguable been the ideological sugar frosting used to present the massive rise of inequality during the same period, both in the ‘Western’ democratic metropoles and across the globe (see for example), as the flowering of democratic, or at least consumer freedom.


That said there is always some kind of enjoyment in reading schematic accounts of long-term shifts in the axes of ideology like the one Fuller presents in this article. More importantly however this type of analysis can help to think again about where our own political orientation lies. In other words, disagreeing with how these ideological shifts are framed or being unable to chart our position within this new ideological cartography can allow for a productive return to fundamental questions. For example, whilst I found Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann’s most-read 2012 article ‘Climate Leviathan’ highly schematic it served as a useful prompt to examine some crucial questions around climate and the role of the state in Left political thought whilst also bringing me back to questions of hegemony that I had drifted from in the preceding years ( a conceptual cocktail that primed me to receive Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams recent #Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics).

In his article Fuller argues that the axes of political division are shifting away from formations defined by Left and Right and gravitating towards a new meta-distinction between ‘Black’ and ‘Green’. He characterizes the latter as earth-hugging, communitarian environmentalists that seek to protect human future by sticking close to ‘nature’ (including supposedly natural ,social hierarchies), whereas the former are committed to the possibility of human and environmental transformation through social and technical progress with an eye to the possibilities for cosmic expansion of the human realm yet an emphasis on individual freedom. Hence, both ‘Black’ and ‘Green’ contain within them distinct elements of what were once identified with Right and Left positions as traditionally conceived; crudely speaking, ‘Black’ politics resonating with the Left’s traditional belief in the possibility and benefit of socio-technical progress and the Right’s emphasis on libertarian freedoms, whilst ‘Green’ politics resonates with the Left’s emphasis on the need for communitarian benefit to accompany any change and the Right’s belief in the security provided by traditional and ‘natural’ forms of order.

We could of course ask, given the cross pollination of the ‘Black’ and the ‘Green’ with different aspects of the Left and the Right, exactly which Left and which Right Fuller has in mind here. Indeed, following his account of the political traditions that ‘Green’ and ‘Black’ draw upon it would appear that the difference between the Left and the Right may be less stable, and the internal character of each less coherent, than his thesis presumes. In fact much of what he identifies as ‘Green’ and ‘Black’ simply points to existing tensions within Left and Right, that are better understood as ends of the political spectrum, or constellations of sometimes conflictual tendencies, rather than as solid ‘blocks’ or ‘wings’.

These qualifications shouldn’t mean that thinking through the implications of Fuller’s terms is a totally redundant exercise. Rather, it is worth considering whether the new ideological formations he characterizes as ‘Black’ and ‘Green’ might be useful in considering possible future orientations for Left, and indeed Right, political thought. Indeed, by foregrounding the fundamental relationship that any future political thought, whether Right or Left, must have to environmental concerns, technology and the question of the human place on the planet/in the cosmos (and by definition then the question of the human as such), Fuller pushes us toward some burning questions that stand outside the frame of much mainstream political discourse. It is tempting perhaps to even read the terms against each other with ‘Black’ and ‘Green’ naming tendencies within Left and Right rather than replacing them so that we might have a ‘Green’ Left and a ‘Green’ Right and a ‘Black’ Left and a ‘Black’ Right. Although this might lead down the path of an ultimately unproductive ideological hopscotch between the Left/Right and ‘Black’/’Green axes it is worth using Fuller’s provocation as a launch pad for further discussion.

From Eschatology to the Anthropocene: RGS-IBG Conference 2013

I’m gearing up for the annual Royal Geographical Society-IBG conference in London later in the week. I have found the conference to be very uneven in the past but am really looking forward to it this year. It looks like the discipline is in a really healthy place at the minute with lots of theoretically informed engagements coming into fruition and others just opening.

It will be a very busy conference for me as I am taking part in four panels, two of which I set up and two of which I will present papers on.


First up is a panel discussion I organized around the theme of Thinking the Anthropocene with Kathryn Yussof, Nigel Clark, Angela Last and Jan Zalasiewicz. I have written about Kathryn and Nigel here before and am really looking forward to hearing Angela’s new thoughts (she runs the great blog, Mutable Matter: I particularly like that she manages to be both genuinely interdisciplinary and rigorous and her work takes in geography, philosophy, political theory and contemporary art – a range of concerns that very much match the intersection of my own). It will also be pleasure to welcome Jan who is a truly amazing speaker and something like the ‘public face’ of the anthropocene. It is great to have the perspective of an ‘actual geologist’ on board too, especially one so intellectually open to engaging with a wide range of perspectives and with political and philosophical questions. In a rather incredible piece of conference scheduling (!!!) this session sadly clashes with Bruce Braun’s keynote lecture for Antipode (more details of the talk and a special virtual issue of Antipode on ecological politics can be found here). The Antipode talk is usually a highlight of the conference and its particularly unfortunate that there is a schedule clash with Bruce’s talk not only as I will miss it but because he is a major voice in the broad field of social-nature that those of us involved in the Anthropocene panel locate the concerns we are addressing.

Both the anthropocene panel and Bruce’s talk will relate closely to the two sessions on Geo-Social Formations: Capitalism and the Earth that Kathryn, Nigel and Arun Saldanha have organized that morning, the second of which I will chair. I would like to have given a paper but was too heavily committed already to do so. The panels look great, building on the conference discussions earlier in the year at Minneapolis and Los Angeles I spoke about here before (and of course on the great work Kathryn and Nigel have long been doing) but this time bringing the broader debates around the anthropocene towards a critique of capital. I am particularly looking forward to Stuart Elden’s paper on ‘terracide’. I have followed Stuart’s work on the ‘Geo’ and the ‘World’ with great interest but have not had the chance to hear this work in person before. I am sure the dark shadow of Reza Negarestani will hang over proceedings for me.

Third is a panel on the theme of Eschatology and World Politics that I co-organized with Ross Adams (UCL, Bartlett School of Architecture / London Consortium) which takes its jumping off point from Carl Schmitt’s ideas on political theology and secularization but seeks to engage with the ways in which eschatological philosophies of history relate to conceptions of world politics (the ‘world’ here being understood as a spatial concept in a variety of registers). I will be presenting some of my recent work on Schmitt’s spatial histories, similar to what I aired at this years AAG in Los Angeles with a slight different focus and hopefully with time to push more on the question of a planetary politics that Schmitt raises. I am looking forward to Ross’ paper as he is developing some fascinating work on the history of urbanism as a specific way of thinking spatial politics and the city as a particular form of governmental apparatus that draws on Schmitt, Foucault and Koselleck in interesting ways. We are delighted to be hosting Mika Luoma-aho, a really interesting International Relations thinker based in Finland who wrote a great book on God and International Relations: Christian Theology and World Politics recently drawing heavily on Schmitt’s thought. I am looking forward to probing Mika about the strange nexus of Left Schmitt scholars that seems to have coalesced in Finland, including Mikas Ojakangas and Sergei Prozorov, whose work I greatly appreciate (I have theories about Finland’s frontier with Russia – where a very different reading of Schmitt and space circulates amongst the far Right geopoliticians of ‘Eurasianism’). Also taking part is Gerry Aiken from Durham who I have not met before but will present what looks to be great work on climate change and apocalyptic thought (roughly where I end up in my own presentation).

Lastly I will take part in a panel on Abstractions organized by Alex Loftus on Friday morning. I am not too sure what to expect from this panel yet but Alex is a great guy and I enjoyed working with him when we were both at Royal Holloway’s Geography Department. His work on ecological politics is great and I am particularly impressed by his persistent engagement with Antonio Gramsci as well as his deep interest in the political dimensions and potentials of contemporary art. I am also really looking forward to Harriet Hawkins’ paper on abstract art here (Harriet is another former colleague from Royal Holloway whose work is in Geography but spans engagements with art and some very interesting work on materiality). My own paper will be rather general in scope laying out some broad schematic reflections on the relationship between geographic thought and contemporary philosophy and relating this to my interest in geo-social relations on the one hand and the difficulties involved in the ‘realist’ tradition of political thought’s supposed commitment to the ‘concrete’ on the other. It is a bit of an experiment but I am glad that Alex invited me to take part so that I might be pushed to formalize some these thoughts more and attempt to bridge the connection between various strands of my research that I feel relate to each other but am often too happy to leave nestled beside each other rather than systematically interrogate. This panel will hopefully provide a step in the right direction here.

I am also looking forward to catching up with friends and colleagues from the UK and the US, including many of those I had the pleasure to meet earlier this year in Minneapolis and Los Angeles and older colleagues like David Featherstone and Alan Ingram (Alan served as one of my PhD examiners and he will be presenting some of the work related to his project on art and geopolitics at the conference which I look forward to greatly). It is always a pleasure to catch up with people at conferences and hear about other people’s work, both in papers and in the bar afterwards, and they can serve as really useful forums for putting wind in the sails of individual projects and building collective momentum around shared endeavours. I think this will be one of those occasions. I will give some sort of report when the dust has settled.

CFP, AAG 2014: Geophilosophy and the Geo-Social

Elizabeth Johnson, Harlan Morehouse and myself are putting together some sessions at the 2014 AAG around the relationship between Geophilosophy and Geography, and particularly what we are calling the Geo-Social.

Please circulate the below CFP to anyone you think may be interested.
Many thanks

Geophilosophy and the Geo-Social

AAG 2014

Call for Panels/Papers

Elizabeth Johnson,

Harlan Morehouse, University of Minnesota

Rory Rowan, Wageningen University

There is a growing consensus that in the 21st century the planet is no longer the concern of geologists and climate scientists alone, but that philosophical and social thought must also increasingly engage with planetary concerns. Emergent literatures across the social sciences and humanities are struggling to generate new conceptual frameworks and research strategies to adequately account for the complex knots that bind social, geological, biological and technological forces together, as well as the catastrophic potentials that reside within them (see, for example: Braun and Whatmore 2010; Clark 2010; Ellsworth et al 2012; Saldanha 2013; Yusoff 2013; and the special issue of the Oxford Literary Review, 2012). At the recent RGS-IBG conference in London, Nigel Clark, Arun Saldanha and Kathryn Yusoff characterized this messy tangle of anthropogenic and nonhuman forces as the ‘Geo-Social.’ In many ways, this ‘Geo-Social’ can be considered the foundation of geographic scholarship. However, as many begin to examine the links between social history and geologic change in the context of Climate Change and the advent of the Anthropocene, the ‘Geo-Social’ invites a radical reassessment of fundamental conceptual frameworks across a number of registers – from the epistemological and ontological to the political and ethical – and a re-articulation of Geography’s relation to other disciplines. But just as these issues strain traditional disciplinary boundaries and standard methodological frameworks, they open the possibility for new forms of collaborative research stretching across the natural and social sciences and the humanities, and involving both empirically based work and speculative thought.

The massive transformations in human-planet relations also raise fundamental philosophical questions and invite re-evaluations of the complexity of concrete Geo-Social entanglements: How, for example, do planetary conditions affect our philosophical frameworks and how do we frame the Earth philosophically? Thus, in addition to examining the Geo-Social, we aim to examine Geophilosophy as a form of thought specifically committed to exploring the relationship between philosophy and the Earth. Geophilosophy has a rich heritage in modern Continental Philosophy arguably reaching from Kant and Nietzsche through Deleuze and Guattari to contemporary thinkers like Elizabeth Grosz (2008), Reza Negarestani (2011), John Protevi (2013), Michel Serres (2012) and Ben Woodard (2012). We aim to place Geography at the forefront of this debate in the belief that its critical traditions and recent efforts in rethinking human-nonhuman relations can provide crucial insights that deepen philosophical traction on the world whilst locating disciplinary concerns at the cutting edge of wider theoretical debates. We particularly seek to engage with recent attempts in Geography to re-interrogate the ‘geo’ as a way to engage with planetary questions without re-inscribing the economic and political over-determinations of ‘globalization.’

These sessions seek to advance conversations begun at the “Anthropocene” sessions at the 2013 AAG in Los Angeles and the 2013 RGS-IBG by further exploring the philosophical and empirical implications of the Geo-Social. We specifically seek papers that address any of the following concerns, among possible others:

· What modes of thought are best suited to understanding the matrix of human and non-human forces that make up the Geo-Social today? What are the political stakes of rethinking how we conceive of Geo-Social relations?

· How might Climate Change and the advent of the Anthropocene affect the ways in which we conceive of the Earth, and what new philosophical possibilities might be opened by these developments?

· What new perspectives can Geography bring to the philosophical traditions of Geophilosophy – from Kant to Negarestani – and how might it bear on its future trajectories?

· What questions and forms of knowledge production – imagined, emergent, or well established – are needed in the face of an emerging ecological catastrophe?

· Do 21st century environmental conditions call for new forms of experimental research and praxis-based approaches that bridge the physical and social sciences? How might we develop modes of examination that refuse the distinction ‘physical or social’ without reinforcing the neoliberal university’s call for ‘transdisciplinarity’?

· What is the relationship between existing Geo-Social formations and histories of capitalism? Beyond the privatization/neoliberalization of non-human life through carbon markets and ecosystem services, around what forms of value might post-capitalist Geo-Social formations organize?

Please send inquiries / abstracts of no more than 250 words to by October 5th 2013.


Braun. B. and Whatmore, S., editors. (2010). Political Matter: Technoscience, Democracy, and Public Life. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Chakrabarty, D. (2009). The Climate of History: Four Theses. Critical Inquiry, 39. 197-222.

Clark, N. (2011). Inhuman nature sociable life on a dynamic planet. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Clark, N., Saldanha, A., and Yusoff, K. editors. (forthcoming 2014). Capitalism and the Earth. Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books.

Ellsworth E., Kruse, J., and Beatty. editors (2012). Making the Geologic Now: Repsonses to Material Conditions of Contemporary Life. Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books.

Grosz, E. (2008). Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth. New York: Columbia University Press.

Negarestani, R. (2011). Globe of Revolution: An Afterthought on Geophilosophical Realism. Identities, 17, 25-54.

Protevi, J. (2013). Life, War, Earth: Deleuze and the Sciences. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Saldanha, A. (2013). Some Principles of Geocommunism. Retrieved from:

Serres, M. (2012). Biogea. Minneapolis, MN: Univocal.

Woodward, B. (2013). On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy. Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books.

Yusoff, K. (2013). Insensible Worlds: Postrelational Ethics, Indeterminacy and the (K)nots of relating. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 31(2), 208–226. doi:10.1068/d17411

Yusoff, K. editor. (2013). 400ppm: Exit Holocene, Enter Anthropocene. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Retrieved from


Read an interesting review of Peter Sloterdijk’s work here today. I was discussing the phenomena of ‘panic rooms’ with a friend recently and the following quote from Bubbles seemed to resonate with the (pathological) spatialized immunitary logic they exhibit:


“To oppose the cosmic frost infiltrating the human sphere through the open windows of the Enlightenment, modern humanity makes use of a deliberate greenhouse effect: it attempts to balance out its shellessness in space, following the shattering of the celestial domes, through an artificial civilizatory world. This is the final horizon of Euro-American technological titanism.”

Keith Ansell-Pearson also had a recent review of Sloterdijk’s You Must Change Your Life here. I have not had a chance to read this latest book yet but am interested to find out more about his concept of “anthropotechnics” and his discussion about engineering human existence for the future.

Sloterdijk is a tricky thinker: he undoubtedly has a mastery of Western philosophy, literature and culture – and indeed of Eastern thought (although I am not sure if some time spent in India makes this anything more than a token gesture) – and is a master rhetorician, packing more new ideas onto a page than many venerable types manage to squeeze out of a lifetime. But the conceptual super-abundance always threatens to drown his overall point and the teaming cornucopia of new ideas he presents but never finishes frequently raises the suspicion that he is an arch-sophist, gratuitously gorging on his own erudition. Although he seems to lean to the Right it is not quite clear how. His occasional polemics never quite amount to ‘outbursts’, taking the form of rather watery Nietzschian critiques of the Left (whether Marxism or the social-welfare state) or a brazen but somewhat ironic embrace of neoliberal dogmas. He seem motivated by little more than a desire to ruffle the feathers of liberals and leftists with controversial discourses, which in itself is no bad thing (I have often joked that he is something like a Right wing Zizek, the ever protean gadfly of the academic Left). But beyond the rhetorical showmanship and distracting maze of tangents that characterize Sloterdijk’s work and his problematic politics he does have a admirable passion for engaging with Big Ideas that move far beyond the scope of most contemporary Continental philosophy and dare to risk constructive, propositional thought rather than simply elaborating critical stances.

Perhaps a worthy philosophical antagonistic who might bring conceptual struggle on to new terrain, or just a prose performer worth glossing while in the bath to pick up ideas you can run with, but in a different direction? ‘Anthropotechnics’ might be one such idea – perhaps the necessary framework for thinking a human future in the ‘Anthropocene’.

Sloterdijk’s work is of particular interest in so far as his analysis focuses on the shifting relationship between spatiality, epistemology and ontology, or rather the shifting spatial technologies through which humans attempt to align themselves with changing existential conditions. Indeed, he has joked that his three volume Spheres was an attempt to write Being and Space and sequel to Heidegger’s Being and Time which correct its flaws. Whilst Sloterdijk’s analysis of the changing spatialities of human existence is filtered through simultaneously exhilarating and deadening conceptual excess that he brings to bear on any subject, his attempt to think being spatiality are worthy of consideration, especially given that he does not assume a fixed ahistorical relation between these terms but seeks to feel out the shifting modes of their mutual constitution through material processes and epistemological changes – a project he appears to extend in to speculative stabs at envisioning the future in You Must Change Your Life. The significance of Sloterdijk as a spatial thinker has already been recognized by a number of geographers not least of which Stuart Elden, but also Pete Adey, Oliver Belcher, Eduardo Mendieta, Pepe Romanillos and Nigel Thrift amongst others. There is doubtless more work to be done in teasing out how some of Sloterdijk’s ideas may find application in geography and related fields and how the many suggestive conceptual nuggets he leaves undeveloped might be carried further.

Capitalism and the Earth – Punctum Books


I am excited to announce that the ever-brilliant Nigel Clark, Arun Saldanha and Kathryn Yusoff are editing a book entitled Capitalism and the Earth to be published with Punctum Books next year.

It will build particularly on the two sessions Nigel, Arun and Kathryn have put together at the upcoming RGS-IBG conference in London on the theme of Geo-Social Formations: Capitalism and the Earth (the second of which I will chair).

The book will bring together a number of critical geographers committed to thinking through the relationship between capitalism and the earth philosophically and politically, in ways that critically engage with debates around the Anthropocene – taking them seriously whilst troubling them conceptually. The book will contain contributions from the three editors, Kai Bosworth, Noel Castree, Stuart Elden, Lesley Head and Chris Gibson, Kevin Surprise, Jan Zalasiewicz and myself (and perhaps a surprise special guest).

The collection is sure to make an important contribution to a growing set of debates around the philosophical and political stakes of Geo-Social relations in light of the Anthropocene and the emerging climate catastrophe. Earlier this Spring I had the good fortune to attend, back to back, the Critical Climate Change Scholarship Workshop at the University of Minnesota (organized by Jessi Lehman and Sara Holiday Nelson) and the five Anthropocene sessions at the AAG (organized by Elizabeth Johnson and Harlan Morehouse), both of which played a key role in focusing these discussions and producing a genuine intellectual community working on these issues (with the forthcoming book’s editors and a number of others, such as Stephanie Wakefield [CUNY], also taking part at both events).

Elizabeth, Harlan, Jessi and Sara have done a great job in keeping momentum from these sessions going with the wonderful GeoCritique blog which features a news feed and commentaries on related themes by the site’s editors and guest contributors, such as Arun’s recent work on Geo-Communism. Kathryn Yusoff, in her new capacity as reviews and open-site editor at Society and Space has also done great work in organizing the recent set of on-line interventions around the Anthropocene, 400ppm: Exit Holocene, Enter Anthropocene.

The sessions on Geo-Sociio Formations: Capitalism and the Earth at the RGS-IBG and the panel discussion I have put together there on Thinking the Anthropocene with Nigel, Kathryn alongside Angela Last and Jan Zalasiewicz will provide a further opportunity for some of the issues to be thrashed out and for future collaboration to emerge. Elizabeth, Harlan and I are also drafting a call for papers around the Geo-Social and Geophilosophy for next year’s AAG which will appear soon. Harlan, Kai Bosworth and I also plan to collaborate on an extended on-line review of Ben Woodard‘s excellent On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy in the coming months, to which he has generously agreed to provide a written response.

It is also great to see that Punctum Books, a brilliant Brooklyn-based open-access press, will be putting the book out. They are leading the charge of quality open access publishing and already have a great record of related publications including last year’s superb Making the Geologic Now: Responses to Material Conditions of Contemporary Life, edited by Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse (of Smudge Studios / F.O.P) and On an Ungrounded Earth. The press has also played a central role in the development of debates around object oriented ontologies/philosophies and ‘speculative realism’ through Leper Creativity, a collection of essays on Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials, and the journals O-Zone: A Journal of Object Oriented Studies and Speculations: A Journal of Speculative Realism (although this phrase is increasingly redundant, seemingly more a mechanism of capture and dismissal than indicative of any common trajectories of thought).

For my part, I am particularly interested in developing some ideas around Geophilosophy and the politics of planetary thought in relation to broader debates on the Geo-Social and climate crisis on the one hand, whilst on the other, exploring the geopolitical and philosophical importance of emerging extra-planetary geographies. I have included below the abstract for my contribution to Capitalism and the Earth where I hope to make some initial tentative steps in this direction.

Capitalism and The Extra-Planetary Condition

Social science scholarship has increasingly turned its attention to the complicated, mutually constitutive relationship between the earth’s systems and human social formations, a trend to which frequent reference to the anthropocene bares witness. However, this literature has for the most part not only understood human social be bound to the earth but to principally take shape on the earth. This paper will argue that the relationship between social formations and the earth is neither limited to the terrestrial surface of the earth nor the planet as a whole, including its atmosphere. It will rather examine the ways in which human social formations are tied to the earth through an extensive and expanding network of extra-planetary relations. Indeed, it will be argued that the system of orbiting satellites now constitutes an integral part of social relations on earth but further of the earth’s systems, amounting to a novel extra-planetary strata that expands socio-geological relations – and hence the anthropocene – beyond the bounds of the earth’s atmosphere.

But what relation does capitalism have to this cosmic anthropocene? Whilst orbiting satellites have been integral to human-earth relations and the global economy for over half a century and space exploration was a key part of the so-called Cold War ‘space age’ the recent emergence of commercial space exploration marks a new development in relations between capitalism and the earth. The dominance of speculative extraction points to the expansion of the existing capitalist economy into the cosmos with new forms of astral-accumulation emerging to compliment the existing mineral basis of the capitalist economy and the wider energy economy it relies upon. But might this be a sign not of the confident extension of capitalism in to the cosmos but an indication that capitalism is an earth-bound social formation that has exhausted its mineral basis and met its planetary limitations?

The further question arises as to what political significance the expansion of capitalist economics into the cosmos might entail. Will it see the emergence of what some have referred to as ‘astropolitics’ – a field of supposedly realist determinism complimenting an earthly and earthy geopolitics – and the extension of existing concepts of territory, sovereignty, citizen and property into a new extra-planetary frontier and an intensification of existing inequalities on earth? Or rather will a new politics accompany these new spaces of intervention defined by new political formations in planetary and extra-planetary space?

This paper will argue that these questions are not confined to the realm of science fiction even if they have been largely overlooked within the critical social sciences and excluded from respectable philosophical and political discussion. Rather, these are questions that have important bearing on key questions about the existing and future nature of social relations and the ways in which they are bound to the earth’s systems and indeed the cosmos, that deserve critical attention as the commercial space age rapidly accelerates.

Carl Schmitt and Space

I started this blog in a rush a few weeks ago to post notice of the event I recently organized with Jenny Jaskey at Miguel Abreu Gallery in New York, which featured Ray Brassier, Suhail Malik and Reza Negarestani in conversation around the themes of Reason, Freedom and Enlightenment. This will be the first of a series of events we will organize under the name Happy Hour. Those interested in reading the forthcoming transcript of the conversation and hearing about future events can find more information from the Happy Hour site.

I’d planned a rabid flurry of posts to follow but have been too busy to devote the time to it. At any rate I think its probably better to build up slowly at first as I feel out how I might want to use this forum. So for now, sporadic bursts rather than steady invective!images

The first thing to do is to give a quick update on the project which absorbs most of my time, a book, due out next year, on Carl Schmitt’s spatial thought. I am co-authoring the book, On Schmitt and Space, with Claudio Minca of Wageningen University’s Cultural Geography Group, my former PhD supervisor, and it is contracted to Routledge as part of their Interventions Series, edited by Jenny Edkins (Aberystwyth University) and the wonderful Nick Vaughan-Williams (Warwick University).

My doctoral thesis, The Crisis of Political Form: The Question of Space in the Work of Carl Schmitt, completed last year at Royal Holloway, University of London’s Geography Department, provides the broad outline of the book. The book will confirm the central arguments presented in the thesis and follow its diachronic approach, charting the development of Schmitt’s spatial thought in relation to his changing political and personal circumstances and various lineages of modern European political and geographic thought. However, the analysis will be extensively developed by drawing on work we have done on Schmitt both separately and in collaboration (see for example our contributions to Stephen Legg’s edited volume Spatiality, Sovereignty and Carl Schmitt. Geographies of the Nomos and our recent guest editorial in Political Geography, The Trouble with Carl Schmitt).

The section of the book addressing Schmitt’s spatial thought during the Nazi years will be particularly informed by Claudio’s previous work on Schmitt’s conception of the border (with Nick Vaughan-Williams, here), his relationship to Nazi geographies (with Trevor Barnes and Paolo Giaccaria, here and here) and his influence on Italian political thought, particularly Giorgio Agamben and Carlo Galli (here and here). The later sections of the book will bear the traces of work I am currently developing on the peculiar ‘spatial histories’ I argue structure Schmitt’s late works such as The Nomos of the Earth, The Theory of the Partisan and the fascinating but overlooked Land and Sea (a poor translation of which you can read on this dreadful American neo-fascist site if you care to!). I will publish some of this material in the coming months but was grateful for the opportunity to have presented elements of it at this year’s AAG conference in Los Angeles as part of a panel on Space and violence (here) and  as part of a panel on Eschatology and World Politics I co-organized with with Ross Adams (London Consortium and Bartlett School of Architecture) at the forthcoming RGS-IBG conference in London (here).

I’ll post more about the book project and related matters as it develops but now back to writing it!