CfP // The Aesthetics of Geopower: Imagining Planetary Histories and Hegemonies

Call for Papers

The Aesthetics of Geopower: Imagining Planetary Histories and Hegemonies

4 & 5 April 2024, University of Amsterdam | Deadline for proposals: 15 October 2023.

Keynote Speaker:

Macarena Gómez-Barris (Brown University, author of The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives, Duke University Press, 2017)


For this two-day, single-stream, and in-person conference, sponsored by the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis and Dutch Research Council, scholars are invited to explore how the human and nonhuman forces shaping and emerging from the earth are articulated in art and cultural practice.


If the earth was once passed off as a neutral backdrop to human life, in the present age of ecological derangement it has reemerged as fraught with relations of power and politics. In this context, cultural theorists have put forward the rubric of geopower to conceptualize the ways that power is exerted over and through but also by the earth (Clare 2013; Neyrat 2019; Yusoff 2018). Having long been entangled with extractive, racial capitalism (Bain 2023, 1-2), geopower is becoming especially visible amid climate change and discourses of the Anthropocene. From proposals for solar geoengineering to legislation extending legal personhood to ecological entities such as the Ganga River, contemporary manifestations of geopower indicate how politics and planetarity are colliding in complex ways that are increasingly defining the present and will shape the future.

Extrapolated from Michel Foucault’s thinking of biopower, geopower—or “geontopower” in Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s alternative formulation (2016)—has been theorized along several overlapping trajectories (Tola 2022; Luisetti 2019). For some, it primarily signifies the “government of the earth” (Diran & Traisnel 2019, 44) and implicates the technologies and tactics through which dominant subjects frame and exploit not just terrestrial environments but those “defined into nature” under patriarchal and colonial orders (Caputi 2020, 183). For another strand of theory, which draws on posthuman philosophies of life and matter (esp. Grosz 2008), geopower names the nonhuman forces of the earth, which permeate, condition, but also often disrupt or imperil humanly regulated environments (Clark 2011; Grosz, Yusoff, & Clark 2017).

Building on these developments, this conference explores how geopower intersects with aesthetics, taken expansively as referring to art, film, literature, and other forms of cultural practice, as well as sensed materiality and embodied perception. Our premise is that the aesthetic, far from being secondary or supplemental to the forces shaping the earth, is centrally entailed and embedded in dynamics of geopower. This can be seen in the visual construction of “the Earth system” as an object of calculation, conservation, and control, or in scholarly, literary, and filmic narratives of the Anthropocene, which cast different human subjects as planetary culprits or custodians (Bonneuil & Fressoz 2016). The earth’s inhuman forces, meanwhile, have a transgressive vitality that often registers aesthetically and might be articulated in artistic practice (Sheikh 2017). Such forces suffuse cultural practice even when not explicitly thematized, whether because some artistic scenes are economically aligned with particular regimes of resource extraction (Acosta 2020) or because cultural works are necessarily composed of planetary materialities, which precede and exceed discursive or authorial framings of the aesthetic (Parikka 2015).

To probe the connections among power, planetarity, and the aesthetic, we call on scholars, critics, and practitioners across disciplines to reflect on how diverse formations of geopower are enabled and mediated, but also challenged in cultural practice. How do conceptual, visual, poetic, or narratological framings of the earth calibrate social approaches to environments? Which marginalized perspectives can be brought forward to develop alternative representations or counter-histories of geopower? How is it imbricated with racializing, (neo)colonial, and cisheteropatriarchal orders? And how might theories of geopower be rethought by attending to its material manifestations or reimagined in literary and artistic experiment?

In addressing these and other questions pertaining to the aesthetics of geopower, contributors are invited to explore narratives, images, and practices relating to any genre or medium, or events, discourses, and materialities in any historical and geographical context. Possible topics might include (but are not limited to):

—cross-cultural perspectives on/representations of the earth as an aesthetic object;

—the significance of land and planetary forces in decolonial thought and practice;

—the aesthetics of geoengineering, from speculation to design;

—climate fiction and narrative constructions of geopower;

—articulations of the earth’s materialities in the arts and cultural practice;

—the role of mapping, remote sensing, and technological mediation in planetary governance;

—the politics and aesthetics of “deep time” imaginaries;

—Embodied and multi-sensory apprehensions of planetary power;

—representations of resource extraction and new commodity frontiers;

—the aestheticization of planetary forces that exceed and transcend the human;

—creative interventions that make visible the inequities and injustices of geopower.



Please submit abstracts (max. 300 words for 20 minute presentations) and a short biographical note (max. 250 words) to by 15 October 2023.

Kindly send submissions as a single pdf document of max. two pages. To deepen mutual engagement, papers will be circulated a week before the conference; each participant will be assigned a respondent and asked to act as primary respondent to an assigned paper in return. Selected papers will be invited for inclusion in an edited volume. No conference fees will be charged.

Organized by Dr Simon Ferdinand ( and Dr Colin Sterling ( of the University of Amsterdam.



Acosta, Santiago, We Are Like Oil: An Ecology of the Venezuelan Culture Boom, 1973-1983 (PhD. dissertation, New York: Columbia University, 2020).

Bain, Kimberly, “Black Soil,” Social Text 41.1 (2023): 1-19.

Bonneuil, Christrophe, and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, The Shock of the Anthropocene (London: Verso, 2016).

Caputi, Jane, Call Your “Mutha”: A Deliberately Dirty-Minded Manifesto for the Earth Mother in the Anthropocene (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

Clare, Stephanie, “Geopower: The Politics of Life and Land in Frantz Fanon’s Writing,” Diacritics 41.4 (2013): 60-80.

Clark, Nigel, Inhuman Nature: Sociable Life on a Dynamic Planet (London: Sage, 2010).

Diran, Ingrid, and Antoine Traisnel, “The Birth of Geopower,” Diacritics 47.3 (2019): 32-51.

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

Grosz, Elizabeth, Kathryn Yusoff, and Nigel Clark, “An Interview with Elizabeth Grosz: Geopower, Inhumanism and the Biopolitical,” Theory, Culture, & Society 34. 2-3 (2017): 129-46.

Luisetti, Federico, “Geopower: On the States of Nature of Late Capitalism,” European Journal of Social Theory 22.3 (2018): 342-63.

Neyrat, Frédéric, The Unconstructable Earth: An Ecology of Separation (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018).

Parikka, Jussi, “Earth Forces: Contemporary Land Arts, Technology, and New Materialist Aesthetics,” Cultural Studies Review 21.2 (2015): 47-75.

Povinelli, Elizabth A., Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016).

Sheikh, Shela,“Translating Geontologies” inAnd Now: Architecture Against a Developer Presidency: Essays on the Occasion of Trump’s Inauguration, edited James Graham (New York: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2017), pp. 165-184

Tola, Miriam, “Geopower: Genealogies, Territories, and Politics,” in Handbook of Critical Environmental Politics, edited by Luigi Pellizzoni, Emanuele Leonardi, and Viviana Asara (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2022), pp. 564-76.

Yusoff, Kathryn, “The Anthropocene and Geographies of Geopower,” in Handbook on the Geographies of Power, edited by Mat Coleman and John Agnew (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2018), pp. 203-16.

CFP// Earth Sensations: Affects, sensibilities and attachments in an era of climate change

Circulated on behalf of Tobias Skiveren

13 – 14 October 2022

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark

Organisers: Iwona Janicka & Tobias Skiveren

The interdisciplinary conference aims to examine various sensations generated by natural environments in an era of climate change. It intends to explore how ecological mutation reconfigures the way we feel, sense, desire and what long term effects these changes have on mental health of individuals and communities. How do we sustain ourselves, mentally and emotionally, when our environments are destroyed? How do we compose more-than-human collectives that provide favourable conditions not only for survival but also for thriving for humans and nonhumans alike?

Call for papers – deadline by 1 June 2022

Please submit abstracts of 250-500 words as well as a brief biographical note (100 words) to by 1 June 2022. Notifications will be sent out by 15 June 2022. Papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length and should be held in English.

Thanks to a generous support of our funders, we are able to cover travel and accommodation expenses for two-three early career researchers or untenured academics based in Europe, who are not able to draw on their institutional resources. If you wish to be considered, please include a brief supporting statement (max. 50 words).

Read the full call for papers here.

Conference website here

Reflections on European Society for Environmental History Bi-ennial Conference, Tallinn, 21-24 August, 2019

Back home after the conference, my mind flitting around memories including the stupendously impressive opening ceremony, the highlight of which was an Estonian choir serenading conference attendees from atop a submarine in Tallinn’s Seaplane Harbour Museum – no really – and conversations with such a wide variety of attendees that it only serves to remind me what a broad church environmental history is – and ending up committing to do another book review as a result of a chance encounter with an envhist colleague/book review editor for a journal.

But uppermost in my thoughts is one of the keynote speeches, which I think was a masterclass in how to deliver a compelling narrative whilst relating it to relevant historiography and conceptual themes, using different sources of material to inform and balance judgements about conflicting information, and paying due attention to agreed conference themes.  To name just a few of its qualities.  The keynote was by Professor Kate Brown of MIT in the States, presenting on aspects of her most recent book, ‘Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future’.  Quite apart from the important factual content of direct relevance to us (blueberries and other fruit and vegetables from Ukraine and Poland are now off my shopping list probably permanently), Professor Brown critiqued the existing Chernobyl historiography and present mainstream mind-set as being limited both geographically and temporally, focused on the immediate geographical site around the nuclear plant, and also on an “accident” narrative which regards the disaster as a one-off event suspended in time, rather than an ongoing disaster with accelerating consequences.

Commenting also on the perspectives created by popular media/culture, Brown critiqued the (much-praised from a dramatic perspective) HBO ‘Chernobyl’ TV series as perpetuating a prejudice that a “Chernobyl” could only happen in an authoritarian regime such as the Soviet Union – whilst, as Brown asserts, the liberal democratic authorities in Japan took three months to acknowledge that there had been a nuclear disaster at Fukushima. 

Of greatest interest from a budding historian’s perspective however, was her analysis of the primary research material available, recognising that official documents from the period were more useful in illustrating the deleterious impact of Soviet bureaucracy and power structures on the capacity to provide accurate information about the health consequences of Chernobyl – than they were useful in terms of understanding the actual health consequences.  For the latter Brown undertook oral history research with workers who had been present in dealing with aspects of the aftermath, identifying what they had done, why, and what the consequences for their own health and that of their now deceased colleagues had been.  Professor Brown’s presentation was filmed by ESEH and is now available on:

Her presentation reminded me of some of the things I learned in my MRes in Historical Research at the Institute of Historical Research, that not all sources of material are accurate, that they may exist for a particular reason, and reflect the views/bias of the person and/or organisation responsible for their creation – not something I had exactly forgotten, but which had been pushed to the back of my mind in my rush to “do” the research for my ongoing PhD.

Elsewhere in my ESEH conference experience, I’m left reflecting on the value of making presentations, as opposed to just attending conferences to hear other people and “network”.  Although there were in total 500 ESEH conference attendees (although not all at the conference at the same time) there were in most segments of the timetable around ten parallel sessions, and for my ‘Landscapes of War’ session in which I presented there were just nine attendees, plus the three speakers, the chair, and a technician – spread out in an unfortunately quite large lecture room.  I had a similar experience at ASEH back in April – hundreds of conference attendees in all, lots of competing parallel sessions, and our five-strong panel nearly outnumbered the audience.  I know, I know, the contacts you make, the practice you get in public speaking, the opportunity to reshape your PhD material according to the themes of the conference, thereby broadening your perspective on your own material…but nevertheless I found all the empty seats quite dispiriting, and in stark contrast to the buzz I got from speaking at the Rural Modernism and British Agricultural History Society conferences earlier this year where, whilst there were only 30 or 40 attendees in total, there were no parallel sessions, so I had an audience of all the conference participants, and it really made me feel like it was worthwhile. 

I’m sure the issue of how many parallel sessions to have is a perennial tension for conference organisers, and I’m certainly not going to attempt to give advice – but only to say that I think, in deciding to participate in future conferences, I will just have to accept that as a landscape militarisation envhist, I will likely have to resign myself to speaking to small audiences for the larger international conferences, in order to benefit from the events’ scale and breadth in other ways – and wait for the smaller single-session conferences to give me the exciting and stimulating experience of presenting to a good-sized audience.

Gary Willis

Year Two PhD Student

Department of Historical Studies / Member of Centre for Environmental Humanities