Environment and Planning D Society and Space

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Online ISSN: 1472-3433


Print ISSN: 0263-7758


Mapping Children's Politics: The Promise of Articulation and the Limits of Nonrepresentational Theory
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October 2012


131 Reads


Reflecting wider debates in the discipline, recent scholarship in children's geographies has focused attention on the meanings of the political. While supportive of work that opens up new avenues for conceptualizing politics beyond the liberal rational subject, we provide a critique of research methods which delink politics from historical context and relations of power. Focusing on the use of nonrepresentational theory as a research methodology, the paper points to the limits of this approach for children's political formation as well as for sustained scholarly collaboration. We argue instead for a politics of articulation, in the double sense of communication and connection. An empirical case study is used as an illustrative example.

Restructuring of the Labour Market and the Role of Third World Migrations in Europe

November 1993


36 Reads

This paper is an analysis of the way in which the changes in the labour market and in the occupational structure in Europe affect the situation and the role of Third World migrants, The author singles out, first, the main differences between the present migratory waves and the intra-European migrations of the 1960s and 1970s. Not only are the numbers of nationalities and ethnic groups who participate in the new migratory experience greater now than before, but also the destinations are different. At the time of the great intra-European migrations the receiving areas were the most developed European industrial countries: now Spain, Italy, and Greece also attract a large number of migrants from the Third World. Intra-European migrations were industrial migrations because manufacturing and building industries were the most important and growing economic activities. While industrial employment increased, the working class and the industrial conflict were the basic factors of those societies. Present-day migrations are postindustrial migrations. Immigrants work mostly in service activities and not infrequently in the informal economy. In any case migrant workers are located in the secondary labour market. The picture is made more complex by the fact that many immigrants are alegal or illegal because of the restrictive immigration policies in European countries. The casual character of the migrants' occupations, coupled with the fact that some of them are not settled, but keep migrating within the hosting countries, makes more difficult their union organization. Besides that, the forms of solidarity which are developing now are less and less class based, but are based on ethnic and religious bonds.

The Blackwell Cultural Economy Reader

February 2008


142 Reads

The geographies of one particular restaurant workplace in the southeast of England are considered. It is argued that such workplace geographies-broadly of surveillance, display, and location-help to constitute the character of an employment. Here, this is demonstrated through an examination of the performative geographies of display in waiting work in Smoky Joe's restaurant. This examination is then used in two ways: both to draw out some implications of the interpersonal nature of this particular job; and to establish some broader analytical dimensions-sociospatial relations of consumption-to aid the understanding of how and why other jobs may be similar or different.

Table 1. 'Codes in your wallet'. An audit of identification codes and their media carried by one person. The use of codes and linkage to information systems are specified. 
Figure 3. The range of unique identification code on a typical consumer retail receipt. This example is for purchase of headphones in a high street electrical store in Britain.  
Figure 4. A range of territorial identifications codes generated for places in the UK from the Ordnance Survey's 1:50,000 gazetteer. (Source: Digimap Gazetteer Plus, part of the EDINA digital library service, University of Edinburgh, http://www.edina.ac.uk.)  
Figure 5. An example of a high capacity 2D barcode, known as PDF417. It is used here in a design for the U.S. Postal Service's proposed new personalised, secure postage stamp. (Source: http://www.symbol.com.)  
Figure 6. The structure of a 96 bit EPC (Electronic Product Code), deliberately partitioned into 4 distinct parts to allow flexibility in object identification using RFID tags. The header defines the type of EPC. The 28 bit manager element allows for 268,435,455 different users (typically product manufacturers), who are able to uniquely define 16,777,215 different types of object. Each of these is then assigned a 36 bit serial number, giving a total of 68,719,476,735 potential unique identification numbers per object. In total the EPC-96 number space can uniquely identify 3 26 (309484990217176000000000000) different entities.  
Codes of Life: Identification Codes and the Machine-Readable World

June 2004


3,766 Reads

In this paper we present a detailed examine of identification codes, their embeddedness in everyday life, and how recent trends are qualitatively altering their nature and power. Developing a Foucaultian analysis we argue that identification codes are key components of governmentality and capitalism. They provide a means of representing, collating, sorting, categorising, matching, profiling, regulating; of generating information, knowledge and control through processes of abstraction, computation, modelling and classification. Identification codes now provide a means of unique addressing all the entities and processes that make up everyday life -- people, material objects, information, transactions and territories. Moreover, they provide a means of linking these entities and processes together in complex ways to form dense rhizomic assemblages of power/knowledge. At present, however, the information that identification codes provide access to are, at best, olgopticon in nature; that is they afford only partial and selective views. In the latter part of the paper we outline four trends -- wide scale trawling for data, increased granularity, forever storage, and enhanced processing and analysis -- that seek to convert these partial olgopticons into more panoptic arrangements. In turn, we contend that these trends are part of a larger meta-trend -- the creation of a machine-readable world in which identification codes can be systematically and automatically `read' and acted on by software independent of human control. This meta-trend is supported and driven by interlocking discourses such as safety, security, efficiency, anti-fraud, citizenship/empowerment, productivity, reliability, flexibility, economic rationality, and competitive advantage to construct powerful, suppor...

Industry and Space: A Sympathetic Critique of Radical Research

January 2008


83 Reads

In this paper are developed a number of criticisms of radical research on industry and space, and it is argued that many of the problems are generated by three basic types of error, These are: an inadequate treatment of the relationship between abstract theory and empirical research on concrete phenomena; an inadequate treatment of space; and distortions arising from the particular theoretical and political priorities of radical research. The substantive criticisms include the treatment of technology and product innovation, stereotypes of spatial divisions of labour, ‘deskilling’ and feminisation, the role of the nation-state in the internationalisation of capital, and the social or institutional characteristics of capital. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of some of the implications of the discussion for practice.

‘Locality, politics and culture: Poplar in the 1920S

June 1988


22 Reads

The relationship between a local polity and its civil society is explored, and it is argued that local polities cannot be understood in isolation from the specific institutions, practices, and culture of the locality. This is no longer a particularly novel claim to make, of course; yet it is a claim interpreted in a peculiarly narrow way by current theorists of the locality and the local state, who see the influence of civil society on local politics wholly in terms of class. The author begins this paper by offering an alternative theoretical framework which unites locality, politics, and culture, In the second section the political beliefs and policies of the Labour Party in the cast London borough of Poplar in the 1920s are examined and it is shown how local cultural values and ways of understanding the world shaped those political commitments to a very large degree. In the third part the social power relations are explored which developed between the Labour-controlled local state and the institutions of its civil society and which sprang from those local Labour Party values, These power structures changed during the 1920s, shifting from a participatory form of mass politics in the early 1920s to a much more exclusionary and elitist mode later in the decade. It will be argued that both types of power relations can be linked very closely to Poplar's local culture, and in the final section some conclusions will be drawn from this about the politics of local culture.

Sampling and the Politics of Representation in US Census 2000

October 2001


28 Reads

Counting of people in official censuses and other social surveys produces representations that are arguably of far greater political importance than the representations produced by voting. The recent controversy around the use of sampling methods in US Census 2000 illustrates some important political - geographical dimensions of our decisions regarding whether and how to be counted in surveys. The argument is intended both to illuminate political features of this very important source of geographical data and to encourage a more self-consciously political engagement with the statisitical surveys through which modern citizens more or less consciously contribute to the shaping of our own lives.

Local Water Diversely Known: Walkerton Ontario, 2000 and After

April 2005


1,774 Reads

In this narrative of the water contamination in Walkerton, Ontario, in 2000 - 02 I consider the local priorities defining good water. These vernacular understandings emphasised taste, softness, and thrift in municipal water, and they highly valued local sovereignty in matters of water quality, and solidarity as a quality of local citizenship. By using contemporaneous evidence from media reports and the judicial enquiry into the incident, I trace how the qualities of good water were redefined, and with them community standards of safety, expertise, and risk. The emphasis on community consent to vernacular water monitoring practices and the implications of this shared responsibility differ from the journalistic and judicial accounts which emphasise individual culpability.

Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Politics of Reconciliation: The Constituent Power of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Australia

June 2012


613 Reads

Paper submitted to special issue of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Special Issue on Citizenship Without Community, ed. Vicki Squire and Angharad Closs Stephens The formal reconciliation process in Australia sought to redress the unjust colonial origin of the Australian polity from ‘within’ the constitutional order. In his official apology to Aboriginal and Islander people in 2007, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claimed to enact a constituent moment that would establish a new beginning and transform the identity of the political community. Yet Rudd’s presupposition of the constituted power of the Australian state and his authority to speak on behalf of an already-constituted political community undercut the constitutive power of the apology. In contrast, the self-authorizing claim to Sovereignty exemplified by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy protest in Canberra might be understood as an act of constituent power, which breaks into the constituted order of the Australian polity from its excluded ‘outside’. Inaugurated in 1972 and reinstated in opposition to the announcement of the formal reconciliation process in 1992, the Tent Embassy demonstrates Aboriginal Sovereignty by acting as if it is a form of constituted power. As such, the Tent Embassy is as a manifestation of constituent power, which makes available the possibility of a fundamental break with the colonial past, which has so far eluded the constituted power of the Australian state.

In the Absence of Practice

December 2009


50 Reads

Increasingly the focus of social analysis and explanation is falling upon doings, on actions and practices, insofar as they are understood to be the origin rather than the effect of signification and meaning. This paper offers a sympathetic critique of such ‘ontologisation’ of practice, asking what is presumed about the human and the social when practice is taken as the primary social ‘thing’. The critique works by outlining, somewhat tentatively, a ‘phenomenology’ of dreamless sleep; a situation and a state in which a subject cannot be said to be doing anything at all. The figures that will be discussed below lie flat out; for the moment they have no bearing or gait, no focused or dispersed attention, no reflexive, deliberative or tacit understanding. This discussion is developed through a reading of Tim Ingold’s (2000) landmark essay “The temporality of the landscape” (in The Perception of the Environment Routledge), here taken as exemplary of a broad range of practice based approaches. While looking specifically at issues around skill, place, and sociality, the overarching claim of the paper is that thinking about sleep and about being a being which sleeps provides a way of touching on the susceptibility and finitude of corporeal existence. A susceptibility and a finitude which, I suggest, are the very condition of possibility of practice and action.

Secondhandedness: Consumption, Disposal, and Absent Presence

February 2004


328 Reads

In this paper I argue that in the now-extensive work on the sociology of consumption there is very little that addresses directly the important issue of disposal. Furthermore, I argue that disposal is not just about questions of waste and rubbish but is implicated more broadly in the ways in which people manage absence within social relations. I develop this argument through a critical engagement with the work of Mary Douglas, Rolland Munro, Michael Thompson, and Robert Hertz. I seek to show that disposal is never final as is implied by the notion of rubbish but involves issues of managing social relations and their representation around themes of movement, transformation, incompleteness, and return. I suggest that rather than see the rubbish bin as the archetypal conduit of disposal within consumer practices the door might be seen as a better example. This has implications for understanding questions of representation, ethics, and the management of social relations within the practices of consuming.

Acting in the Network: ANT and the Politics of Generating Associations

April 2008


335 Reads

In this paper I will draw upon ANT to consider how political associations are generated within a global network of grassroots peasant movements. ANT has failed to fully consider the ways of generating such associations, especially the processes through which such associations are made. In so doing, the causes of and accountability for differential power relations have been precluded, as have the productive dimensions of that power. Through a consideration of the moments and strategies of network translation, I will show that power inequalities and intentionality act to determine the contours of network association.

Geographies/Aerographies of Contagion

June 2011


20 Reads

Geography, contagion, and the element of air have historically overlapped in interesting ways and, as this article demonstrates, they continue to do so. By tracing metaphors of air, wind, miasma, and contagion through literary works that span nearly three centuries, I argue that the element of air tends to signify, in cultural expression, a more ambiguous, affective form of contagion that is also bound up with the spread of ideas and information

Becoming and Being Hopeful: Towards a Theory of Affect

October 2006


412 Reads

In this paper I describe how hope takes place, in order to outline an explicit theory of the more-than-rational or less-than rational in the context of the recent attunement to issues of the affectual and emotional in social and cultural geography. In the first part of the paper I outline an expansion of the more-than-rational or less-than-rational into three modalities: affect, feeling, and emotion. From this basis I question an assumption in the literature on affect that the emergence and movement of affect enable the multiplication of forms of life because they takes place ‘in excess’. In the second part of the paper I exemplify an alternative, more melancholy account through a description of the emergence of hope and hopefulness in two cases in which recorded music is used by individuals to ‘feel better’. Emergent from disruptions in various forms of diminishment, hopefulness moves bodies into contact with an ‘outside’. Becoming and being hopeful raise a set of issues for a theory of affect because of, rather than despite, the sense of tragedy that is intimate with how hope heralds the affective and emotive as always ‘not-yet become’. The conclusion, therefore, draws the two parts of the paper together by reflecting on the implications of thinking from hope for both a theory of affect and an affective cultural politics.

Table 1 . Percentage of children who have moved, and moved more than once in Lesotho and Malawi.
Table 2 . Percentage of children for each migration type in Lesotho and Malawi.
Table 3 . Percentage of children who have moved for different reasons in Lesotho and Malawi.
Children’s experiences of migration in Southern Africa: moving in the wake of AIDS

June 2006


191 Reads

Despite the recent significance children's geographies have been afforded within many geographical subdisciplines, their experiences of migration have received relatively little attention. However, children do migrate and their migration is often distinct from that of entire households. In this paper we explore children's migration in southern Africa within the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, focusing in particular on the impacts of moving house on children's sociospatial experiences. Migration has consequences for several areas of children's lives, and the nature of those consequences is shaped by the context within which migration takes place. In southern Africa AIDS is an unavoidable aspect of the sociospatial context, but the impact it has on children varies. This exemplar has wider implications for two areas of geographical research. First, in the paper we advocate the importance of including children's experiences of migration within culturally informed studies of migration. Second, there is a need for research in children's geographies to extend beyond the microlevel. We advocate a refocusing of research beyond children's static relationship to environments to also encompass children's transient geographies in discussions of their life experiences.

Beyond Imaginative Geographies? Critique, Co-Optation, and Imagination in the Aftermath of the War on Terror

April 2011


49 Reads

This paper considers the question of what it might mean to resist the 'imaginative geographies' of the War on Terror through a reading of the bestselling novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. Reading this novel against the claim that we are now at the 'end' of the War on Terror, the paper engages with how we might move beyond what Derek Gregory described as the split geographies of 'us' and 'them', 'civilization' and 'barbarism' that represent the violent return of the colonial past. The paper argues that critical attempts at resisting the imaginative geographies of the War on Terror, such as we find in this particular novel, often assume and reproduce an understanding of time as linear and progressive, an idea of time which Gregory points out makes these imaginative geographies possible. The paper argues that this becomes problematic when critical interventions risk reproducing the very understanding of political life that they set out to confront. Whilst it is an important political move to reveal the imaginative geographies at work in the War on Terror, the paper suggests that this approach also risks operating by confirming to a critical readership that which it already knows. We are too easily led to the conclusion that what is needed is better representations of 'others' in the world, as just as enlightened, cultured, reasoned as 'us'. The contention of this paper is that such critical responses fail to do anything to disrupt or trouble the split geographies of 'us' and 'them'; rather, they keep them firmly in place and entrench them further. The paper argues that we need to revisit and unsettle the concept of imagination at work in the idea of 'imaginative geographies' to explore a way of thinking coexistence in world politics that cannot be understood within a unifying temporal framework. It is suggested that, despite the closures identified in this novel, postcolonial urban literatures also provide many openings for thinking the "possibility that the field of the political is constitutively not singular" [Chakrabarty, 2000, Provincializing Europe (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ) page 148].

On Qualculation, Agency, and Otherness

October 2005


187 Reads

In this paper we explore the boundary between calculative and noncalculative action by arguing that these are separate but mutually constitutive. By using the notion of qualculation, a neologism coined by Cochoy, we redefine the notion of calculation to include judgment. We then argue that making qualculability is not trivial: that it takes effort to create calculation and judgment. But it also takes effort to consider nonqualculability. Two strategies for achieving nonqualculability are identified, those of rarefaction and proliferation. Rarefaction, illustrated by the cases of Quaker worship and selfless love or agapè, works by withdrawing all qualculative resources. Conversely, proliferation, illustrated by the attribution of cause and responsibility after railway accidents, and by a major television fund-raiser, the ‘Téléthon’, works to impede calculation by an overload of qualculative resources.

Domopolitics and disease: HIV/AIDS, immigration and asylum in the UK

October 2008


47 Reads

Geographers and others have become increasingly interested in the intersections between globalization, disease and security, particularly in relation to ‘short-wave’ public health threats such as SARS and pandemic influenza, but ‘long-wave’ epidemics such as HIV/AIDS are also often said to raise questions of security. While a literature is emerging to analyse the politics of security in relation to global HIV/AIDS relief, this article argues that it is also important analytically and politically to connect and contrast this with the ways that HIV/AIDS is politicized as a security issue in relation to immigration and asylum within Western states themselves. Drawing on literatures in governmentality, biopolitics and security, it examines the politics of HIV/AIDS, immigration and asylum in the UK from 1997 to 2007 with particular reference to the reactionary press coverage that influenced policy formation and judicial rulings in this period. Following Walters (2004), the article traces the emergence of a ‘domopolitical’ rationality in press reporting around HIV/AIDS in terms of a number of imaginative geographies and suggests that these imaginative geographies are both biopolitical in a classical sense and connected with the colonial dimensions of the present. The circulation of these imaginative geographies through policy and legal developments, the dilemmas they have raised, and resistance to them from medical, civil society and parliamentary groups are then outlined. Reflecting on the disjuncture in approaches to HIV/AIDS between the global and national spheres, it is argued that while the association of HIV/AIDS and security is enhancing life chances for many, it is also reducing them for people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“America is Safe While its Boys and Girls Believe in its Creeds!”: Captain America and American Identity Prior to World War 2

June 2007


370 Reads

In this paper I engage with the literature on nationalism and popular culture to discuss the role of Captain America Comics in the production of American national identity and national interest prior to World War 2. The character of Captain America is introduced as an example of a rescaling icon, or a bridge between collective identity and the individual. Additionally, the impact of the context in which the comic was produced is discussed as a force in the construction of American identity before the 1941 entry of the United States into the war. The empirical portion of the paper is a content analysis of the first ten issues of Captain America Comics, all predating the attack on Pearl Harbor. The analysis focuses on the ways in which American behavior is disciplined through the narratives in the comic book, as well as the ways in which nationalities are scripted into a moral geography.

Herding Memories of Humans and Animals

August 2006


176 Reads

The study of a herd marks the point where ethnography and ethology meet. In the midst of this shared phenomenon, versions of 'the social' hinge on relations between herders and herd. In this paper I consider how our understanding of a herd might be extended by an awareness of its diverse geographies. This is achieved by reconstructing the entwined biographies of human and animal subjects dating from the reintroduction of reindeer to Scotland in 1952. The first transportation of reindeer from Scandinavia to the Cairngorm mountains was orchestrated by Mikel Utsi, a Lappish emigre from northernmost Sweden, and Ethel John Lindgren, a social anthropologist from Cambridge, of American-Swedish descent. What began as an ecological-economic experiment would occupy the couple until their deaths: Utsi's in 1979 and Lindgren's in 1988. I draw on a 'make-do' methodology undertaken in collaboration with past herders and the scattered company of the present herd: walking a sentient topography of traditional grazing grounds; renewing encounters with charismatic animals through photographic portraits; consulting an archive of herding diaries; and mapping a hidden ecology of landscape relics. These different registers of memory are used to explore how day-to-day engagements between herders and herd were rooted in unconventional systems of ecological and cultural knowledge. By reanimating a local landscape, the resulting narrative works at an intimate scale, while simultaneously gathering momentum from transnational movements of humans, animals, and traditions. Here, salvage and exchange are possible between geography's heritage of landscape and folk study and the sculpting of contemporary research.

Madness, Memory, Time, and Space: The Eminent Psychological Physician and the Unnamed Artist – Patient

December 2006


35 Reads

In this paper I explore the geography in the ideas of one 19th-century psychological physician, Thomas Laycock, seeking to show how his understanding of 'madness' rested upon an 'imaginative historical geography' that explained the contents of a mad person's consciousness as reversions to the mental worlds of other peoples living in other periods and places. I reconstruct Laycock's ideas about memory, notably what he understood by 'ancestral memory' rooted in ancestral times and spaces, and I relate these ideas to his deeper conceptualisations of the time - space fabric of creation. I also examine Laycock's approach to the letters and drawings of one unnamed artist - patient, showing that it is possible from other sources to give this patient a name (William James Blacklock) and even a 'voice' of sorts; and I suggest that Laycock was guilty of failing to engage properly with this evidence, yet also of overinterpreting it at the same time. Acknowledging the dangers of 'presentism' in this paper, I critique how Laycock's ideas captured 'otherness' in a grid of 'sameness' largely indifferent to the very different, perhaps unknowable, imaginings present in madness (and in all who depart from established norms). My contribution should be taken as a circumspect effort to write a 'critical and effective history' inspired by Foucault's claims in the introduction to The Order of Things (1970, Tavistock Publications, London) about the relationship between 'the Same and the Other'.

Culture, Geography, and the Arts of Government

February 2001


710 Reads

This paper endeavors to prise open the theoretical closure of the conceptualization of culture in contemporary human geography. Foucault’s later work on government provides the basis for a useable definition of culture as an object of analysis which avoids problems inherent in abstract, generalizing and expansive notions of culture. The emergence of this Foucauldian approach in cultural studies is discussed, and the distinctive conceptualization of the relations between culture and power that it implies are elaborated. This re-conceptualization informs a critical project of tracking the institutional formation of the cultural and the deployment of distinctively cultural forms of regulation into the fabric of modern social life. It is argued that the culture-and-government approach needs to be supplemented by a more sustained consideration of the spatiality and scale of power-relations. It is also suggested that this approach might through into new perspective the dynamics behind geography’s own cultural turn.

Echo, Desire, and the Grounds of Knowledge: A Mytho-Poetic Assessment of Buttimer's Geography and the Human Spirit

August 1994


6 Reads

In Geography and the Human Spirit, Buttimer argues that the history of geographical concern is marked by cyclical time, which is distinguished by three phases: Phoenix, Faust, and Narcissus. By taking a longer look at one of these myths, Narcissus, it is possible to suggest that Buttimer bases her account on some problematic assumptions. Thus, the figure of Echo, absent from Buttimer's telling of the myth, can return to disrupt her story. This mytho-poetic assess ment reveals something of the way in which 'others' are constituted in her story: I take this erasure to be symptomatic of an 'othering' humanism, which is predicated on the other, but considers itself self-grounded and thereby distances itself from others. The conclusion questions Buttimer's universalism, her concept of cyclical time, and her sense of a liberation cry of humanism. I suggest that an emancipatory geography cannot rely on undisclosed and marginalized 'others', in this case represented by the figure of Echo.

Different Atmospheres: Of Sloterdijk, China, and Site

February 2009


471 Reads

This paper begins with an appreciation and critique of the remarkable work of Peter Sloterdijk which makes it possible to open up a number of issues concerning philosophy and its relation to the social sciences and humanities, most particularly concerning the role of evidence and the pervasiveness of Eurocentrism. In particular, the paper argues that it is possible to think of different ways of raising the spectre of space which are as plausible as the account provided by Sloterdijk’s spatial philosophy/philosophy of space. Navigating by the compass of classical Chinese civilisation, I proceed to sketch out a different diagnosis from that of Sloterdijk of how space is being materialised in contemporary Euro-American cultures. Drawing on logographic traditions of writing the world, I argue that, rather than describing what is now being produced by capitalism and other actors as a warehoused world full of lost souls, it is possible to think of different means of describing how the future is being scripted.

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