Trans-disciplinary workshop

25th-26th of May 2017, University of Oxford

Organisers: Ian Klinke (Oxford) and Mark Bassin (Södertörn)

Supported by: St John's College research Centre, Transformations and Technological Natures research clusters

This two-day workshop will bring together an interdisciplinary group of Geographers, Historians and Political Scientists to reflect on the origins and intersections of modern geo- and biopolitics. Having emerged at the turn of the previous century, both geopolitics (the politics of earth) and biopolitics (the politics of life) are subject to ongoing debate in a wide number of disciplines. These debates depart from an understanding that a preoccupation with the governing of life and earth is integral to the functioning of the modern state. Yet, whilst the biopolitical government of human populations found its expression perhaps most clearly in the Third Reich's genocidal politics, in which human populations were governed in the name of the geopolitical fantasy of a racially purified Lebensraum, we can find traces of geo- and biopolitics throughout the 20th century - and into the present.

The workshop will be split in two sections. The first part of the workshop seeks to present cutting edge research on the intellectual and political history of geo- and biopolitics. The second part of the workshop offers discussion of a new translation of the German geographer Friedrich Ratzel's (1844-1904) famous essay on Lebensraum.


Day 1
(25th of May)
On the origins of the politics of life and earth
Herbertson room, School of Geography and the Environment
10:30 - 11:00Registration
11:00 - 11:30Introduction
11:30 - 13:00Panel 1
  • David T. Murphy (Anderson University) 'From Geopolitik to Demopolitik: Spatial thinking and the origins of Nazi population policy in occupied Slavic Europe'
  • Marius Turda (Oxford Brookes) 'The temptation and redemption of biopolitics: An Eastern European perspective'
13:00 - 14:00Lunch
14:00 - 15:30Panel 2
  • Jemima Repo (University of Newcastle) 'Gender as a post-war biopolitical apparatus'
  • Mark Bassin (Södertörns Högskola) 'Biopolitics with a Marxist Face: Lev Gumilev and ethnos theory in post-Stalinist Russia'
  • Sven Wallenstein (Södertörns Högskola) 'Rudolf Kjellén and the state as a life-form'
15:30 - 16:00Coffee
16:00 - 18:00Panel 3
  • Pascale Siegrist (Universität Konstanz) 'Milieu and Lebensraum: Geo- and biopolitics in the thought of élisée Reclus, Pëtr Kropotkin and Lev Mechnikov, c. 1870-1914'
  • James Scott (Itä-Suomen yliopisto) 'Hungarian interwar biopolitics: The "outer" and "inner" trianon'
18:00 - 19:00Wine reception
Day 2
(26th of May)
Ratzel's Lebensraum in historical perspective
Research Centre, St John's College, 45 St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JS
10:30 - 12:30Panel 1 on Ratzel's Lebensraum essay
  • Mark Bassin (Södertörns Högskola, Sweden, History of Ideas)
  • Claudio Minca (Wageningen Universiteit, Netherlands; Geography)
  • Richard Powell (University of Cambridge, UK; Geography)
  • Ulrike Jureit (Hamburger Insititut für Sozialforschung, Germany; History)
12:30 - 13:30Lunch
13:30 - 15:30Panel 2 on Ratzel's Lebensraum essay
  • Christian Abrahamsson (Universitetet i Oslo, Norway; Geography)
  • Patricia Chiantera-Stutte (Università degli Studi di Bari, Italy; Politics)
  • David T. Murphy (Anderson University, USA; History)
  • Ian Klinke (University of Oxford, UK, Geography)
15:30 - 16:00Coffee
16:00 - 18:00Final discussion
18:00 - 19:00Wine reception


Please contact Dr Ian Klinke if you would like to register.