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Durham University

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Politics - State - Space (PSS)

A research group of the Department of Geography.

This cluster brings together work on: theories of state and sovereignty; politics of space and spatiality; questions of citizenship, identity and belonging; borders, boundaries and the politics of territory; the geopolitics of development and post-coloniality; urban geopolitics and new urban violences; governance and the politics of scale; technologies and architectures of security; politics of policy and expertise; spatialities of war and terror; politics of visual culture; and questions of state, space and resistance. The interwoven strands represent highly mobile bodies of work that shift over time to form new collaborations and discussions.

A ‘snapshot’ of the key current themes would be:

  • Theories of state, sovereignty, territory and security
    Researchers are, in different ways, working to re-conceptualize dominant understandings of state and the exercise of sovereign power. Recent work has, for example, theorized dispersed and prosaic modes of sovereign power; advanced new and innovative thinking on the idea of territory; considered how security may be practised on the terrain of the virtual or the future-oriented.
  • Identities, borders, citizenship
    There has been a strong emphasis on the theorization of identity, particularly from post-colonial, post socialist and poststructural perspectives. The drawing of the line identity/difference has been explored in its many manifestations, including in new practices of bordering human life. The question of citizenship has also been central to the cutting edge of work in the cluster - from European modes of citizenship and belonging, to geographies of the identities of youth and children, and the governmentalities of citizenship and the environment.
  • Spatialities of war and terror
    There is a strong tradition of work in the cluster advancing new ways of thinking about the spatiality of war and the experience of political violence. Work is being done on, for example, the particular forms of visual culture emerging on the terrain of geopolitics; the practices of surveillance and control at work in the war on terror; the affective domains of fear and anticipation of threat; and the urban geopolitics of war and terror.
  • Postcolonial geographies and the politics of development
    This theme has involved work on the intersection of geography and postcolonial theory. Work has been done, for example, to explore the question of memory and identity in relation to postcolonial geographies, as well as to reflect on infrastructure, space and inequality in development geographies. The empirical contexts of the work extend across many countries, including South Africa, India, Bangladesh and Thailand.
  • Governance, policy and the politics of knowledge
    The work of the cluster has done much to advance new thinking on the nature of governance in contemporary life, as well as to situate policy knowledges in historical genealogy. The spatial scales and temporality of governance have been key themes, explored across spheres such as environment; food, housing, regional economic policy and health.

Politics - State - Space (PSS) website


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