Earth politics: Territory and the subterranean – Introduction to the special issue

Andrea Marston, Matthew Himley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The special issue Earth Politics: Territory and the Subterranean explores how and to what political and economic effects people have territorialized the underground. Through studies of a range of activities – from scientific exploration to 3-D geological modeling to laboratory analysis to recreational caving – authors in the issue challenge the idea that the subterranean is a world apart, detached from the sociopolitical worlds of the surface, and instead focus on the complicated relations and processes that remake and weave meaning into often unseen depths. In this introductory article, we situate the issue within expanding literatures on geological materiality, territorial politics, and vertical/volumetric space, and we discuss two overlapping themes running through the issue's articles: the politics of subterranean knowledge production and the politics of subterranean materialities. We conclude by reflecting on the meaning of ‘earth politics’, emphasizing the injustices that derive from – and are sedimented into – dominant modes of knowing and interacting with the matters of the subsurface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102407
JournalPolitical Geography
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Knowledge production
  • Materiality
  • Subterranean
  • Territory
  • Vertical
  • Volumetric


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