RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2015
||Assembling Globalization (1): Assembling Place and Power
Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Laura Jones (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Marcus Welsh (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Martin Jones (The University of Sheffield, UK)
||Friday 04 September 2015, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
||Forum - Seminar Room 11
This session aims to explore globalization and its impacts through the application of assemblage approaches in human geography. The concept of assemblage has been deployed from various theoretical positions to examine; new translocal and transnational social, economic and environment complexes and relationships (Hollander, 2010; Li, 2014; Rankin, 2008), diasporic communities and networks (Mullings, 2012), translocal forms of organizing (Featherstone, 2011), the repositioning of cities with global networks (Sassen, 2006) and the involvement of ‘global assemblages’ in negotiating technological and ethical challenges (Collier and Ong, 2005). However, whilst these studies have illuminated particular dimensions of globalization, few efforts have been made to apply assemblage thinking in a systematic manner to a coherent, critical analysis of globalization as process. Such an endeavour has the potential to extend the relational analyses of globalization pioneered by Amin and Massey, drawing especially on the emphases within Deleuzian and Foucaldian-informed renderings of assemblage theory of dynamism, contingency, relationality, hybridity and territorialisation.
The session therefore brings together papers applying assemblage thinking to the study of globalization to formulate a dialogue around this proposed research agenda.
Assembling Globalization (2): Politics, People, Systems
Assemblage, Place, Power and Globalization
This paper seeks to apply assemblage thinking to developing understanding of how places are changed through globalization, and how globalization is reproduced through places. The concept of ‘assemblage’ has been deployed to study globalization within a broadly relational approach from both Latourian (e.g. Latham and McCormack 2010) and Foucaldian (e.g. Li, 2007, 2014) perspectives. Both display limitations in their capacity to fully capture the operation of power within globalization and its impact on places. A Latourian approach collapses scale and emphasizes contingency but struggles to capture how global assemblages are stabilized and subjected to power. A Foucaldian approach excavates the assemblages stabilization through discursive practices and mechanisms of power but under-plays the agency of material and non-human components. In this paper we seek a more holistic view by combining elements of Foucault’s and Latour’s conceptualizations of power with a third rendering of assemblage theory developed by de Landa (2006). Following de Landa, we imagine places as dynamic assemblages of material and expressive components, held together by literal and metaphorical processes of territorialization and made legible by acts of coding, but also inherently unstable and defined by exterior relations. As such, we argue that globalization proceeds by reconfiguring the exterior relations of places and substituting and rearranging their components, involving moments of interessement, enrolment and dissidence as capacities are enacted through associational power; but that the stabilization of both global assemblages and place-assemblages to permit the routine exercise of power and governance requires discursive power to be mobilized through acts of coding and de-coding.
The Socio-Relationality of Planning: the Assembling of Ben Gurion International Airport
Globalisation is characterised by intensive flow of people, information, and goods on the global network. One outcome of globalisation is 'global places'; heterogeneous micro-cosmoses that play multiple roles in different realms, networks, and scales. Airports in particular are unique global places where fundamental characteristics of globalisation (e.g. mobilities, flows, transitions, freedom/surveillance, and cross national relations) are constantly being enacted.
In planning literature, the global era brings about important transformations: new collaborations between actors who perform multiple strategies in cities, regions and states, new borders that are constantly in the making, new forms of politics and urban governance, and constant alterations in power relations between states and cities.
By drawing on the socio-relational approaches Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and Non-Representational Theory (NRT) the research develops a non-hierarchical orientation towards Planning as a multiple entity that is enacted through heterogeneous associations between subjects and objects, planners and opponents, the local and the global, the social and the spatial.
Social struggles against the upgrade of Ben Gurion International Airport (Natbag) in general, and the expansion of its three runways between the years 2010-2014 in particular, serve as a case study for an empirical examination of Planning and planning processes today. The study examines the interrelationships between various elements, humans and non-humans, and the various forms of performativities and practices that have been involved in the assembly of Natbag. The examination reveals that LDN (day/night noise level formula) and other global standards serve as essential active-actors that constitute a controversial planning process of an airport.
Strategic informal practices by evicted dwellers in a globalising metropolis
This paper seeks to conceptualise informality in the context of a rapidly globalising Istanbul. It attempts to highlight the underestimated subversive qualities of daily practices of informality through the theoretical perspective offered by urban assemblage theory. If the Gezi Park protests were not the start but the consequence of years of top-down policies, re-assessing the relationship between daily practices and struggle against the globalising forces of urban regeneration becomes essential in order to identify much needed alternatives. The search for spaces of possibility ought to take into account the practices of subversion and disruption that specifically avoid visible and militant resistance.
Authors such as AbdouMaliq Simone (2004), Ananya Roy and Aihwa Ong (2011) highlight the need of ‘worlding’ and ‘dislocating’ perspectives (Ong and Roy, 2011). This can be applied to the concept of informality. Urban assemblage theory (McFarlane, 2011; Farías, 2011) has built from assemblage theories in the context of critical urbanism. The combination of these perspectives provide a helpful theoretical path for this paper as it identifies the many different actors involved in the production of daily informal practices in the face of mass-scale privatisation and poverty encroachment. I thus seek to apply the idea of unexpectedness drawing from the concepts of “surprise” and “leakages” raised in the works of Simone (2004), Merrifield (2013) and Harman (2009). These perspectives frame a paper that aims to capture the complex nature of people, things and places entangled in a constant process of becoming.
The global assemblage of halal: proliferating understandings and tensions
The global halal market is held together by competing understandings of halal underpinned by diverse regimes of certification. The process of certification yields an assemblage of producers, consumers, investors, certifiers, markets and a plethora of rules and norms that define what halal is and is not in diverse contexts. The edited collection by Bergeaud-Blackler, Fisher and Lever (2015) illustrates how this global assemblage is held in perpetum mobile by diverse groups of actors competing for status, power and prestige, and how theology, politics and regulation diverge and overlap through technological, political and ethical practices. Drawing on a range of case studies from around the globe, this paper examines how these tensions interact through various collaborative activities to maintain the global halal assemblage, and how the technological expertise of Malaysia at the global level is now being challenged by an emerging regime based on religious legitimacy. In conclusion, we assess the possible trajectory of the global halal market in light of the continued expansion of the global Muslim population.