Dr Ian Shaw
- Senior Lecturer (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences)
I study political geography, philosophy, robot wars, (in)security, political violence, and capitalism. I received a PhD in geography from the University of Arizona in 2011. I have been employed at the University of Glasgow since then.
Robots, Geopolitics, and (In)Security
I am interested in the geopolitical transformations associated with the rise of drones in U.S. national security strategy and beyond. In particular, his approach emphasises why the drone is a political actor - a technology that is slowly but definitively changing social, territorial, and sovereign relations. The point of such work is to fully understand the objects and materials that are responsible for producing inequality, difference, and change in the world.
See my documentary, Remote: A Documentary about Drones and Humans (2017).
I research the geopolitical and geoeconomic transformations associated with the rise of robots in conflict. My approach explores how robots are transforming state power, capitalism, violence, and the human condition. In this sense, I study how they are existential forces that are rendering our worlds ever more (in)secure.
Violence and Capitalism
I am interested in how violence, capitalism, and social infrastructures relate to each other. Recently, this has manifest in a renewed interest in the status of worlds and the violent conditions in which they are born.
Past Research (selected)
Power, Politcs and the More-than-Human
Under a broad more-than-human geography, I have written on human-environment relations, politics, and state theory. The point of this research has been to investigate how nonhumans police, disrupt, and transform the worlds we inhabit.
Geopolitics and Video Games
I have previously researched the relationship between geopolitics, power, and video games.
Shaw, I. G.R. (2016) Predator Empire: Drone Warfare and Full Spectrum Dominance. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, MN. ISBN 9780816694730
Shaw, I. G.R. (2017) Robot Wars: US Empire and geopolitics in the robotic age. Security Dialogue, 48(5), pp. 451-470. (doi:10.1177/0967010617713157)
British Academy Tackling the UK's International Challenges. International Green Academy: School Gardens and Progressive Urban Ecologies. 2019-2021. (£37,604).
A major challenge UK cities face is providing fresh food, green space, and ecological diversity to deprived urban areas. How can new generations of city dwellers thrive in these increasingly stressed urban futures? School gardens embody potential to nurture socially progressive urban ecologies: spaces for experiential education, food production, wildlife, health, wellbeing, and ecological sustainability. Yet there is little geographic research on the contribution of school gardens to social and ecological remediation: can these spaces transform students, and connect to other urban communities, human and non-human? This project will build a garden in a Glasgow secondary school and “twin” it with an established school garden network in Arizona. The Glasgow garden will be designed and evaluated by a team of interdisciplinary researchers. The goal is to empower educators, connect students to their environment, produce innovative curricula, and create transformative ecologies that bridge distinct “urban biomes” in the UK and US.
ESRC Future Research Leader, 2013-2016. "Drone Warfare: Towards a More-than-Human Geopolitics." £153,000. (October 2013 until December 2016)
The world has woken up in the middle of a science-fiction present. Military pilots controlling unmanned drones called ‘Predators’ and ‘Reapers’ are now able to track, target and eliminate human beings from thousands of miles away. Multi-million pound technological developments are creating drones capable of flying autonomously and cooperating together in intelligent swarms. In a frank assessment, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence (2011) warns that 'There is a danger that time is running out – is debate and development of policy even still possible, or is the technological genie already out of the ethical bottle, embarking us all on an incremental and involuntary journey towards a Terminator-like reality?' There is so much at stake in the age of the drone: What are the consequences for international territory and laws of war? What are the ethical and moral implications of robotic killings? How is the public being prepared, consulted, and educated? Why are the traditional assumptions of geopolitics insufficient for understanding the rise of the machine? What is next for human security? This project seeks to answer these pressing questions with a unique research framework that is centred on understanding the complex role of technology in transforming society. Drone warfare has already attracted a storm of debate from human rights lawyers, politicians, journalists, activists, and academics. And yet, this proposal argues that the drone is creating such an unprecedented geopolitical reality that it requires innovative research that investigates the capacities of nonhuman things to police, reshape, and remake the geopolitical world order.
- 2019-. Laurelle McVicker, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences (co-supervised with Emma Laurie).
- 2017-. Ben Gowland, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences (co-supervised with Lazaros Karaliotas and Dave Featherstone)
- 2014-. Megan Donald, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences (co-supervised with Hayden Lorimer).
- 2013-17 Ning An, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences (co-supervised with Jo Sharp).
- 2012-17 Ross Macgill, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences (co-supervised with Chris Philo).
- 2018-9. Heather Urquhart, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences.
- 2017-8. Rachael Punton, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences.
- 2016-7. Adam Ferguson, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences.
- 2012-3. Stacy Paull, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences. Title:"The Utopian Hive".
- 2012-3. Ross Macgill, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences. Title: "Deconstructing the Call of Duty: The Geopolitics of War Video Games."
Visting Masters Students
- 2018. Meiting Zhao. South China Normal University.
- 2017. Bangxing Liang. South China Normal University.
- 2016. Yi Ouyang. South China Normal University.
I teach across Geography 1, 2, 3, and 4. My option courses--which can be taken in Years 3 and 4--are as follows:
- Political Geographies of War and Security (20 credits, next taught in Spring 2021).