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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

McFarlane, C. Translocal assemblages: space, power and social movements. Geoforum. 2009;40:561-567.

Author(s) from Durham


In this paper, I deploy an analytic of ‘translocal assemblage’ as a means for conceptualising space and power in social movements. I offer a relational topology that is open to how actors within movements construct different spatial imaginaries and practices in their work. In using the pre-fix ‘translocal’, I am signifying three orientations. First, translocal assemblages are composites of place-based social movements which exchange ideas, knowledge, practices, materials and resources across sites. Second, assemblage is an attempt to emphasise that translocal social movements are more than just the connections between sites. Sites in translocal assemblages have more depth that the notion of ‘node’ or ‘point’ suggests - as connoted by network - in terms of their histories, the labour required to produce them, and their inevitable capacity to exceed the connections between other groups or places in the movement. Third, they are not simply a spatial category, output, or resultant formation, but signify doing, performance and events. I examine the potential of assemblage to offer an alternative account to that of the ‘network’, the predominant and often de facto concept used in discussions of the spatiality of social movements. I draw on examples from one particular translocal assemblage based in and beyond Mumbai which campaigns on housing within informal settlements: Slum/Shack Dwellers International.

Department of Geography