Having engaged with the recent volumetric turn in architecture and political geography, anthropologists are increasingly concerned with realms such as air, oceans, riparian environments, and outer space, as well as with their social, political, and cultural reverberations. This Theorizing the Contemporary series, which grew out of a panel at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, brings into dialogue these converging interests in volumetric sovereignty and more-than-human geographies. The contributors suggest that this theoretical confluence can be especially illuminating for border processes and phenomena that extend beyond the two-dimensional.

[Editor’s Note, 4/10/19: This collection of essays is accompanied by a sister series at Society and Space. Stay tuned for the forthcoming book, which will include fifteen full-length chapters, as well as a postscript by Debbora Battaglia.]

Posts in This Series

Introduction: Speaking Volumes

Introduction: Speaking Volumes

From the Arctic to the South China Sea, states are vying to secure sovereign rights over vast maritime stretches, undersea continental plates, shifting ice fl... More

Barb

Barb

Barb. Barbed. Barbed wire. My eyes follow the words forming, letter by letter, but my shoulders, too, are responding. They give a slight, involuntary twist as ... More

Buoy

Buoy

At the 2015 Venice Biennale, the Singapore Pavilion hosted the exhibition SEA STATE, by Singaporean artist Charles Lim Yi Yong. A former Olympic sailor, Lim d... More

Clotting

Clotting

The night the Russians bombed her village, Manana Abaeva could not walk. While the Russian 58th Army was battling the Georgian Army to control the Roki Tunnel... More

Downwind

Downwind

Consider a 2001 dust storm over China, captured in the impossible still of a photograph from the banal god’s-eye view (see Haraway 1988) of a NASA satellite. Th... More

Electric

Electric

In addressing urgent electricity demands, many countries in the global South are looking toward short-term power generation systems. An increasingly popular f... More

Fissure

Fissure

When ice fissures, as with the human body, it is indicative of stress and strain. With ice, the resultant crack or crevasse marks its presence on a glacier or... More

Flyways

Flyways

In August 2013, a headline from the Associated Press read “Egyptian authorities detain suspected ‘spy’ bird,” accompanied by a photograph of a forlorn-looking... More

Geometries

Geometries

My interest in location, which has more recently developed into an interest in geometries, began with earthquakes, both literal and political, in the Greek-Al... More

Gravity

Gravity

One night in June 2005, a four-man SEAL team was dropped by helicopter into the mountains of eastern Afghanistan with the order to kill a local commander. Soo... More

Lag

Lag

How do you catch up with an elusive border? Some of the highest-altitude borders in the world are located in physically inaccessible parts of the western Himal... More

Remnants

Remnants

Much contemporary political geography is focused on the interpretation of territory and its governmentalization. Building on the legacies of Henri Lefebvre an... More

Scaleless

Scaleless

The rise of the concept of resilience over the past decade has placed it at the center of an array of discourses and forms of knowledge. More a template for k... More

Sectional

Sectional

Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau are two cities enmeshed into one another. Baarle-Hertog is Belgian territory, surrounded—and fractured—by Baarle-Nassau, a city ... More

Seepage

Seepage

Contemporary discussions of the Anthropocene are dominated by metaphors of and anxieties about inundation: coastlines will be inundated by rising sea levels, ... More

Sensing

Sensing

Our domestic skies are increasingly abuzz with the gentle hum of the drone. The incursions of these small, malleable aerial robots span an array of commercial... More

Sluice

Sluice

During the spring and summer months in the more arid parts of Central Asia’s Ferghana Valley, the distribution of irrigation water has a distinctive rhythm. D... More

Spectrum

Spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation (that is, the energy transferred), which are categorized as radio waves, m... More

Spongiform

Spongiform

The growing recognition that water is a fundamental substance sustaining all forms of life has turned the eyes of many passersby downward, to the subsurface. ... More

Surface

Surface

There is nothing you can dominate as easily as a flat surface of a few square meters; there is nothing hidden or convoluted, no shadows, no “double entendre.... More

Terrain

Terrain

Land reclamation from the sea in many riverine and coastal cities—Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai, and New York, among others—is one instance of the production, ... More

Views

Views

Can one ever view a volume? On the one hand, the view, an appropriation from outside, involves a relationship between viewer and viewed that is necessarily ho... More

Volatility

Volatility

The naturalist Sir David Attenborough calls her a “superfish”; the Nobel laureate Ernest Hemingway a “very elder god.” Imagine a critter the size of a horse s... More

Voluminous

Voluminous

In late April 2011, nearly a month after the Tohoku earthquake caused the catastrophic tsunami in Japan, my Facebook feed featured a series of YouTube clips cal... More

Warren

Warren

A national sea border is usually understood as the line of the shore. In practice, however, this is not accurate. According to international law, a littoral s... More

Watershed

Watershed

A watershed is an area of land from which water drains to a common outlet—generally the point where a river flows into another river, a lake, or an ocean. Wat... More