This session invites participants to consider the political geographies of ‘counting’. Geographers have observed the link between calculation, politics and space (Elden, 2007; Hannah, 2009), often following Foucault in conceptualising state-istics as a form of power-knowledge (Marquardt, 2016). Within and beyond the discipline, the links between calculation and the governing of individuals and relations have been observed (Mennicken and Miller, 2012), considering accounting to a diversity of ends: from its use in benchmarking and rankings (Hansen and Mühlen-Schulte, 2012), to its deployment as a technology on in/exclusion (Amoore, 2006). Furthermore, the ubiquity of ‘big data’ (Graham and Shelton, 2013) and algorithmic analytics (Amoore and Piotukh, 2015) have set the stage for literatures considering smart and technocratic modes of governance (Kitchin, 2014).  Responding to this tendency to consider how governmental power is enacted through numbers (Miller, 2001), Marquardt (2016) has highlighted the importance of considering the uncounted: how statistical absences and silences can illuminate the “fundamental miscount[s]” (Rancière, 1999: 6) of calculative spaces.

This session takes stock of and furthers such approaches to counting and calculation within the contemporary landscape of geographic knowledge. Perspectives are sought on the politics, practices, spatialities, silences and consequences of making things ‘count’. Contributions might consider, but are not limited to:

  • The absences, silences and occlusions of calculative spaces.
  • How alternative counts are established or resisted.
  • The utilisation of statistics within governance.
  • Accounting practices, statistics and indicators.
  • Big data, smart cities and algorithms.

This session will take the form of a multiple paper session, comprised of 15 minute presentations, each followed by 5 minutes of questions.

Please send a 250-word abstract, along with your name and affiliation, to joe.blakey[AT]manchester.ac.uk by Friday 2nd February 2018.

The 2018 Annual International Conference will be held at Cardiff University, Cardiff, from Tuesday 28 to Friday 31 August 2018.

Further details can be found on the conference web page: http://www.rgs.org/WhatsOn/ConferencesAndSeminars/Annual+International+Conference/Annual+international+conference.htm

List of References

Amoore, L., 2006. Biometric borders: Governing mobilities in the war on terror. Political Geography, 25(3), pp.336-351.

Amoore, L. and Piotukh, V., 2015. Life beyond big data: Governing with little analytics. Economy and Society, 44(3), pp.341-366.

Elden, S., 2007. Governmentality, calculation, territory. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 25(3), pp.562-580.

Hannah, M.G., 2009. Calculable territory and the West German census boycott movements of the 1980s. Political Geography, 28(1), pp.66-75.

Hansen, H.K. and Mühlen-Schulte, A., 2012. The power of numbers in global governance. Journal of International Relations and Development, 15(4), pp.455-465.

Kitchin, R., 2014. Big Data, new epistemologies and paradigm shifts. Big Data & Society, 1(1), pp.1-14.

Marquardt, N., 2016. Counting the countless: Statistics on homelessness and the spatial ontology of political numbers. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 34(2), pp.301-318.

Mennicken, A. and Miller, P., 2012. Accounting, territorialization and power. Foucault Studies, (13), pp.4-24.

Miller, P., 2001. Governing by numbers: Why calculative practices matter. Social Research, pp.379-396.

Rancière, J., 1999. Disagreement: Politics and philosophy. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press