Lydia Gibson, Columbia University; Tone Walford, UCL;
Volumetric territories have become key to uncovering spatial, political, social, and technical relationships across sea-, sky-, and landscapes and revealing the exclusionary processes that engender inaccessible spaces and inscrutable data practices. While the volumetric goes beyond the vertical (which reproduces the singularity of the horizontal), it remains bound to a singular politics of imposing cuboidal shape upon territories and volumes. At the same time, an inclination toward geographic shapes – employed to describe, and articulated as inherent to, specific territories – can obscure the very material effects imposed by rectilinear modes of domination. Analytical frameworks work alongside the technologies and forms of governance they critique to reproduce axes and contours of power and logic.
Drawing from the properties of states of matter (solids have definite volume and shape; liquids definite volume but indefinite shape), this panel moves away from definitive rectilinear columns of analyses and toward fluid relations and the myriad shapes they take. Shapes matter in epistemic processes. Fluids are best mixed in beakers but best measured in volumetric flasks because the ballooning and narrowing of their shape enables precision. Unmooring territories from cuboidal geometries and specific terrains a) reveals more about volumetric territories and b) forces a recognition of how knowledge and practice is informed by the shapes we select when engaging with fluid volumes. We welcome abstracts that explore shapes of volumetric territories, the processes and boundaries that produce them, the technologies that foreground them, the social worlds that animate them, and the epistemologies that intersect them.