Voluminous States

Sovereignty, Materiality, and the Territorial Imagination

Voluminous States

Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: 13 illustrations Published: August 2020

Anthropology, Cultural Studies > Surveillance Studies, Geography

From the Arctic to the South China Sea, states are vying to secure sovereign rights over vast maritime stretches, undersea continental plates, shifting ice flows, airspace, and the subsoil. Conceiving of sovereign space as volume rather than area, the contributors to Voluminous States explore how such a conception reveals and underscores the three-dimensional nature of modern territorial governance. In case studies ranging from the United States, Europe, and the Himalayas to Hong Kong, Korea, and Bangladesh, the contributors outline how states are using airspace surveillance, maritime patrols, and subterranean monitoring to gain and exercise sovereignty over three-dimensional space. Whether examining how militaries are digging tunnels to create new theaters of operations, the impacts of climate change on borders, or the relation between borders and nonhuman ecologies, they demonstrate that a three-dimensional approach to studying borders is imperative for gaining a fuller understanding of sovereignty.

Contributors. Debbora Battaglia, Franck Billé, Wayne Chambliss, Jason Cons, Hilary Cunningham (Scharper), Klaus Dodds, Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, Gastón Gordillo, Sarah Green, Tina Harris, Caroline Humphrey, Marcel LaFlamme, Lisa Sang Mi Min, Aihwa Ong, Clancy Wilmott, Jerry Zee


“Responding to the changing ways in which states are colonizing previously inconceivable dimensions of life and livelihood in the ever-reinvented interests of territorial sovereignty, Voluminous States tackles real-life issues of state control. With its specific focus on three-dimensional space as itself a materiality as well as a force in political conceptions and social analysis, it will be welcomed by scholars interested in climate change, sustainability, sovereignty, territoriality, and beyond. This volume sparks the imagination.” — Marilyn Strathern, author of Relations: An Anthropological Account

“Taking materiality and dimensionality seriously in thinking about geopolitics, Voluminous States is likely to become a standard reference in developing debates in human geography, political theory, international relations, and anthropology. Global in reach, this is a great project that is executed extremely well.” — Stuart Elden, author of Shakespearean Territories


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Price: $27.95

Open Access

Spring 2020 Sale
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Franck Billé is Program Director of the Tang Center for Silk Road Studies, Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is author of Sinophobia: Anxiety, Violence, and the Making of Mongolian Identity and coeditor of Yellow Perils: China Narratives in the Contemporary World.

Debbora Battaglia is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Mount Holyoke College and author of E.T. Culture: Anthropology in Outerspaces.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0842-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0791-3