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Political geographies of the object

Meehan, Katharine, Shaw, Ian Graham Ronald, and Marston, Sallie A. (2013) Political geographies of the object. Political Geography, 33 . pp. 1-10. ISSN 0962-6298 (doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.11.002)

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Abstract

This paper examines the role of objects in the constitution and exercise of state power, drawing on a close reading of the acclaimed HBO television series The Wire, an unconventional crime drama set and shot in Baltimore, Maryland. While political geography increasingly recognizes the prosaic and intimate practices of stateness, we argue that objects themselves are central to the production, organization, and performance of state power. Specifically, we analyze how three prominent objects on The Wire—wiretaps, cameras, and standardized tests—arrange and produce the conditions we understand as ‘stateness’. Drawing on object-oriented philosophy, we offer a methodology of power that suggests it is generalized force relations rather than specifically social relations that police a population—without, of course, ever being able to fully capture it. We conclude by suggesting The Wire itself is an object of force, and explore the implications of an object-oriented approach for understanding the nature of power, and for political geography more broadly.

Item Type:Article
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s):Shaw, Dr Ian
Authors: Meehan, Katharine, Shaw, Ian Graham Ronald, and Marston, Sallie A.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Geography
Journal Name:Political Geography
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0962-6298
ISSN (Online):1873-5096
Published Online:20 January 2013
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Political Geography 33:1-10
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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