CSSS organises a talk by Maan Barua

Event From Date: 
Thursday, 26 September 2019
Event End Date: 
Thursday, 26 September 2019
Event Title: 
CSSS organises a talk by Maan Barua
Event Details: 

Centre for the Study of Social Systems

School of Social Sciences


Invites you to CSSS Colloquium



Affective economies and the atmospheric politics of lively capital



Maan Barua

Department of Geography, University of Cambridge


September 26, 2019 (Thursday), 11am

CSSS Committee Room (No: 13), SSS-II


Abstract: This paper is concerned with  the  affective  economies of  lively  capital.   Its central argument is that nonhuman life  itself  has become  a locus  of accumulation,  marked by  an atmospheric  politics  of  capital: the incorporation  of  entire  lifeworlds into regimes of  generating  value  and an intensification  of  relations between life  and  productivity. Focusing on  the Giant panda  – a  spectacular "charismatic"  icon  raising millions  of  dollars globally  –  the paper first examines  junctures at  which  their  alluring  affects  emerge and are manipulated  to produce value.   Turning to  panda  lifeworlds  in zoos, it then  shows  how such  value  production  is contingent  upon affective  labours nonhumans perform in  captivity. Nonhuman labour, as a  component of atmospheric politics, enables  understanding how lively capital is produced  and  reproduced, a  theme  interrogated through  a critical  analysis  of  the  commercial global circulation of  pandas.   The paper develops the  concept  of  atmospheric politics  – an intervention  in an  animal’s milieu and its  affective  intensities  – as a  means for analyzing the  dynamics of  lively  capital.   Atmospheric politics  retrieves a  critical political economy  obscured by  the  concept of  nonhuman  charisma,  and restages  biopower  as  an  apparatus  and  political technology  of  capital.   


Bio : Maan is a cultural and environmental geographer whose work focuses on the spaces, economies and politics of the living and material world. Conceptually, this work brings posthumanist thought into conversation with strands of critical political economy to interrogate questions about nature, culture and capital. Themes of research include urban ecology, more-than-human geographies, biodiversity conservation and the politics of lively capital.  Maan joined the University of Cambridge as a University Lecturer in Human Geography in 2018. Prior to that he was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford, where he also read for a DPhil in Geography.  Maan is currently working on capital and metabolic life, as part of his wider European Research Council Horizon 2020 Starting Grant on Urban Ecologies.