The Social Life of Robots: The Politics of Algorithms, Governance, and Sovereignty

Vincent J. Del Casino, Lily House-Peters, Jeremy W. Crampton, Hannes Gerhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This symposium aims to broaden the way scholars theorise and empirically treat the increasingly complex relationships between robots and social life, especially in the context of our historically anthropocentric human geographies. The authors of this symposium engage a range of diverse epistemological, ontological, and methodological commitments, but all in some way address the power dynamics and shifting political economies involved in human–robotic interactions as well as possibilities for resisting and overcoming particular forms of domination and oppression. At the same time, the papers present new avenues for conceptualising the rise of robots and robotics and the everyday socio-spatial relations of contemporary algorithmic life. In a rapidly evolving present and future, where life is increasingly managed in relation to algorithmic imaginaries and automated fantasies, these papers demonstrate the potential for geographers to make significant interventions and contributions to investigate the limits, contradictions, and messy contingencies of socio-technical assemblages, to trace the shifting spatialities and temporalities of the geographies of algorithmic governance, and to envision radical democratic, post-capitalist, emancipatory alternatives. These futures are unlikely to be “robot free”, so the question remains how will we build a future set of geographies that acknowledges this reality while also claiming space for the diverse and rich expansion of all forms of life, both human and non-human?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-618
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • algorithmic life
  • automated ecologies
  • human–robotic interactions
  • socio-technical assemblages
  • technological sovereignty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'The Social Life of Robots: The Politics of Algorithms, Governance, and Sovereignty'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this