CFP: Regional geographies of electricity: interrogating state territorialities from the periphery

Call for Papers: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, Cardiff (UK), 28-31 August 2018

Regional geographies of electricity: interrogating state territorialities from the periphery

Convenors: Joshua Kirshner (University of York), Ivan Cuesta-Fernandez (University of Edinburgh), Sponsored by the Energy Geography Research Group

The study of core-periphery relations has a long pedigree in Political Geography (Gottmann 1980; Rokkan and Urwin 1983). Wellhofer’s (1989) three central interrogations (i.e. the mechanisms of rise, domination and resistance) remain as relevant today as when they were formulated thirty years ago. Unfortunately, the role of infrastructure in these mechanisms remains poorly understood. If anything, the study of infrastructure and territoriality draws heavily on the legacy of a historically-informed narrative that emphasizes nation building and modernist drives to homogenize states’ reach across their territories (Schipper and Schot 2011; Weber 1976). But this interpretation seems to hold little water for post-colonial realities (Boone 2012), as analyses of contemporary infrastructural drives are increasingly showing (Baptista forthcoming; Herbst 2000; Schouten 2013). A vibrant avenue for research in that direction is beginning to explore how political bargains about electricity shape core-periphery relations (Kale 2014; Min 2015). To that end, region-wide schemes of electrification across peripheries offer a useful window to examine metamorphosing state territorialities.

Against this backdrop, this session wishes to explore the contemporary dynamics of region-wide peripheral electrification in post-colonial states. It is particularly interested in, but is not limited to, the following themes:

  • The feedback effects between electrification in peripheries, state territorialities and state power
  • The quid pro quos between oil and gas rushes and regional electrification in resource-rich peripheries
  • The mutual influences between electoral processes and electrification in peripheries
  • The political mobilization of infrastructural grievances by regional and municipal actors
  • The novel social, political and territorial social contracts that emerge as a result of infrastructure delivery
  • The role of state, subnational, non-state and/or transnational actors in peripheral electrification

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words, along with a title, author(s), affiliation and contact details, both to Joshua Kirshner (joshua[dot]kirshner[at] and Ivan Cuesta-Fernandez (i.cuesta-fernandez[at] by Friday 9th February 2018.


Baptista, Idalina. Forthcoming. “Space and Energy Transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa: Understated Historical Connections.” Energy Research & Social Science.

Boone, Catherine. 2012. “Territorial Politics and the Reach of the State: Unevenness by Design.” Revista de Ciencia Política 32(3): 623–41.

Gottmann, Jean. 1980. Centre and Periphery: Spatial Variation in Politics. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE.

Herbst, Jeffrey. 2000. States and Power in Africa. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Kale, Sunila S. 2014. Electrifying India: Regional Political Economies of Development. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Min, Brian. 2015. Power and the Vote: Elections and Electricity in the Developing World. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Rokkan, Stein, and Derek W. Urwin. 1983. Economy, Territory, Identity: Politics of West European Peripheries. London: SAGE.

Schipper, Frank, and Johan Schot. 2011. “Infrastructural Europeanism, or the Project of Building Europe on Infrastructures: An Introduction.” History and Technology 27(3): 245–64.

Schouten, Peer. 2013. “The Materiality of State Failure: Social Contract Theory, Infrastructure and Governmental Power in Congo.” Millennium-Journal of International Studies 41(3): 553–74.

Weber, Eugen. 1976. Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France 1870-1914. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Wellhofer, E. Spencer. 1989. “Core and Periphery: Territorial Dimensions in Politics.” Urban Studies 26(3): 340–55.


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