Governance at the Edge of the State:
Recognition and Exclusion in Resource Frontiers.

 MasterClass AND International Conference,

August 26-27, 2019

University of Copenhagen

Masterclass Format*

An intensive two-day masterclass* for Ph.D. students will precede the conference on monday and tuesday. Students will engage with the two authors – Elizabeth Povinelli and Michael Watts - around central concepts in their work and how they connect (power, class, identity, rights, structure, agency etc.). On the basis of assigned readings, students will work in supervised groups to discuss the texts and develop questions to be discussed with Povinelli and Watts. These questions can be epistemological, conceptual as well and methodological. Students will then, have sessions with Povinelli and Watts and discuss the questions they developed. Participants in the MasterClass must also submit a paper for the Conference.

 Elizabeth Povinelli and Michael Watts are outstanding scholars of the governance of difference in struggles over resources, and recognition of rights to them. Moreover, both have engaged conundrum of political power speaking and acting through the state and its institutions, and the fact that it is at its very edge that conflicts over what may the state and governance be, are often roughed out. Yet, Povinelli and Watts address these issues from different quarters.

In her re-theorization of biopolitics, Povinelli offers explorations of the everyday ordinary suffering and endurance on the margins where violence colonizes social practices. Yet, such ordinary suffering suggests the centrality of perseverance and precarious survival; ‘the Otherwise’ as alternative social projects, that operate along the blurred lines between life and death created by the governance of the distinction between life and non-life. It is within these crammed spaces that what counts as subjects and life is defined. Here, where various modes of existence meet in social struggle over resources, recognition and identity, people operate as they experience the effects of late liberal governance.      

Watts, on the other hand, examines powers embedded in the political economy and ecology and how they are exercised when the conditions of possibility allow. Resources, and the political power to control them are central in this Marxist perspective.  Powers that control the material reality of life are fundamental, yet people often act in the face of uncertainty, and with a conditioned view of what is possible. Therefore, people’s own ideas about political futures, identity and organisation, are crucial elements of resource struggles.

* For both participation and succesful completion of the masterclass, students are expected to actively participate in both the masterclass and the international conference. Note: it is not possible to participate in the two-day masterclass only. We reserve the right not to accept all applications.

Succesful completion of the masterclass (including the international conference) yields 6 ECTS.


Participation in the masterclass is free of charge. Participants are responsible for their own transport and accomodation.