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Workshop: ‘States of Circulation: circulation, friction, and the politics of logistics’

November 3, 2016 - November 4, 2016

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We have the pleasure to announce the workshop ‘States of Circulation: circulation, friction, and the politics of logistics‘ which will take place November 3-4 at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS).

Organizers: Jan Bachmann (University of Gothenburg) Peer Schouten (DIIS) and Finn Stepputat (DIIS)

Keynotes: Brenda Chalfin (Professor in Anthropology, University of Florida) and Deborah Cowen (Associate Professor in Geography and Planning, University of Toronto)

The imperative of circulation is so deeply ingrained in our world that it is almost invisible. Yet circulation also comes at a cost—it is both violent and fragile, in need of security, capital, infrastructure and constant maintenance; beyond its technical and economic aspects, circulation produces frictions, parasites, unwanted circulations and political orders, just as political orders associate with particular forms of circulation.

Increasingly, research from a variety of disciplines speaks to how circulation entangles with such complex issues as the politics of scale, exclusion, labor rights and rentier state formation—but thus far, these disparate efforts have not been made to speak to each other. Thus it seems timely to articulate the varied and perhaps contradictory politics inherent in the ubiquitous imperative of making things circulate.

Rationale for this workshop is the novel conjuncture of logistical enterprise in different contexts and new theoretical sensibilities which can be brought to bear on the co-production of circulation and political (dis-)orders. Bringing together anthropologists, geographers, historical sociologists and international relations scholars, we aim to recover the political significance of transnational logistical arrangements—from fragile trade networks to large infrastructural systems—for the formation of contested (dis)orders.

The workshop invites papers that explore encounters between transnational logistical efforts and local patterns of intervention, contestation, appropriation and adaptation as a lens to understand contested claims to authority. In particular, we are interested in cases that do not sit comfortably within received frameworks of order and state formation, exploring questions and themes such as:

  • The co-production of multinational corporate logistical chains and emerging geographies of (dis)order
  • Large-scale infrastructure projects and the techno-politics of rentier state formation
  • The turn to logistics in transnational organized crime
  • Long distance trade networks and conflict economies
  • The effects of governing circulation through international standards of security
  • Spatial ruptures and displacements of scale in the reassembling of national economies and liberal orders
  • Geographies of enclavization in extractive industries, special economic zones, urban innovation and humanitarian logistics
  • Ethnographies of the political work necessary to assemble stable states of circulation
  • Topographies of conflict, disruption and accommodation around bottlenecks, corridors, chains and networks

Contact Peer Schouten (pesc [at] diis [dot] dk) for more information.


November 3, 2016
November 4, 2016
Event Category:


Danish Institute for International Studies
Østbanegade 117
Copenhagen, København 2100 Denmark
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