Territory, Politics, Governance Annual Lecture recorded at the AAG Meeting, 2015.
State theorists have usually attempted to theorize the state but this is a misleading focus that risks treating the state as a simple instrument or machine, a reified apparatus that is primarily a source of constraint on political action, or a more or less rational subject that exercises power. Such positions have been criticized from many alternative theoretical positions as well as proven unhelpful in empirical analyses.
This article introduces cultural political economy as a distinctive approach in the social sciences, including policy studies. The version presented here combines critical semiotic analysis and critical political economy. It grounds its approach to both in the practical necessities of complexity reduction and the role of meaning-making and structuration in turning unstructured into structured complexity as a basis for ‘going on’ in the world.
This article revisits Foucault’s analytics of power in the light of his lectures on governmentality and biopolitics in Society must be Defended (1975-6), Securité, territoire, population (1977-8) and Naissance de la biopolitique (1978-9). Foucault is renowned for his criticisms of state theory and advocacy of a bottom-up approach to social power; and for his hostility to many theoretical and practical manifestations of orthodox Marxism.
For some, the landslide victory of the Labour Party in 1997 held the promise of a reversal of the socio-economic transformation of Britain that had been achieved through nearly eighteen years of Conservative government. But it did not take long for the Blair government to disappoint these hopes. For, in many ways, the three successive Labour Governments under Blair’s continuing authoritarian plebiscitary tutelage have deliberately, persistently, and wilfully driven forward the neo-liberal transformation of Britain rather than halting or reversing it.
Antonio Gramsci’s philosophy of praxis is characterised by the spatialization as well as historicization of its analytical categories. These theoretical practices are deeply intertwined in his ‘absolute historicism’. Highlighting the spatiality of Gramsci’s analysis not only enables us to recover the many geographical themes in his work but also provides a useful counterweight to the emphasis on the historical dimensions of his historicism.
This contribution adopts a dual state- and regulation-theoretical approach to analyze the European Union as an emerging political system and its role in capital accumulation. It does so in three respects. First, in state-theoretical terms, I reject the two main rival descriptions of the EU in the 1980s and 1990s as a supranational state or a site of interstate struggles and propose a third interpretation.
My contribution to this celebration of Limits to Capital (hereafter Limits or LC) approaches it as a magisterial work that is also a ‘classic’ text. Even though Harvey recently described it, with justified regret, as the least discussed and used of his books (2000), it is a work of massive theoretical ambition and solid accomplishment. As Harvey remarks elsewhere, Limits ‘seeks to integrate the financial (temporal) and geographical (call it global and spatial) aspects to accumulation within the framework of Marx’s overall argument.