Political Geography: Is the state an object in Object-oriented Ontology?

I am not a cultural critic, nor an expert in Object-oriented Ontology (though I try to keep up on it), but I recently published a short response to an article in Political Geography that applies OOO to interpret a favorite t.v. show of mine: The Wire.

My critique, and the authors’ response to it, are both up online now. A central point I raised is that to be consistent with OOO, any treatment of the state (qua object) must treat it as both real and retreating – which is based on a reading of Harman’s work and his interpretation of Heidegger’s tool analysis. This idea runs counter to a lot of political geography, which doesn’t want to reify the “state” or its space as the basic unit of analysis. Initially, it puzzled me that the original paper didn’t engage with what OOO might say about the state as both real and retreating.

The authors’ response is intriguing. They abandon defense of OOO before recovering the points of their article they wish to highlight (and about which I raised no contest, though linking up OOO to Deleuze and co. raises other questions too).

This leaves my original question open: what does OOO have to say about the state? And what can/should political geographers do with its tools?

It is far from clear to me that OOO must reify the state in ways that have worried political geographers. In fact, it may have some nice elements to add (presuming, of course, one is willing to accept the larger philosophical package it comes with).


Kate Raworth: economics for the Anthropocene

The last installment of her three-part video series (see here), in this video Kate Raworth looks forward to economics in the 21st century:

Mohawk Interruptus: Audra Simpson on the refusal of the settler state

Audra Simpson has an excellent new book out that pushes on anthropologists and political scientists to stop assuming the colonial project is complete. Here is a description of the book from Duke University Press. And, below, a talk Dr. Simpson gave earlier this year at the University of Victoria.

Mohawk interruptus: political life across the borders of settler states

Mohawk Interruptus is a bold challenge to dominant thinking in the fields of Native studies and anthropology. Combining political theory with ethnographic research among the Mohawks of Kahnawà:ke, a reserve community in what is now southwestern Quebec, Audra Simpson examines their struggles to articulate and maintain political sovereignty through centuries of settler colonialism. The Kahnawà:ke Mohawks are part of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy. Like many Iroquois peoples, they insist on the integrity of Haudenosaunee governance and refuse American or Canadian citizenship. Audra Simpson thinks through this politics of refusal, which stands in stark contrast to the politics of cultural recognition. Tracing the implications of refusal, Simpson argues that a sovereign political order can exist nested within a sovereign state, albeit with enormous tension around issues of jurisdiction and legitimacy. Finally, Simpson critiques anthropologists and political scientists, whom, she argues, have too readily accepted the assumption that the colonial project is complete. Belying that notion, Mohawk Interruptus calls for and demonstrates more robust and evenhanded forms of inquiry into Indigenous politics in the teeth of settler governance.

What is economics? Kate Raworth

Kate Raworth is probably best known for her work on economics within the “doughnut” (i.e. within planetary and social boundaries). She is also putting together a series of short videos on “What is Economics?”

Here are the first two, with a third on the way:


The rise and rise of Bitcoin

Somebody should start something similar that works on (a rough but improvable estimate of) earth’s thermodynamic balance.

A slough of great talks on Situating Science

Canada’s Situating Science network has posted quite a number of great talks by STS folks. They are all available here, on the youtube channel for Situating Science.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson on Restoring Nationhood: Addressing Land Dispossession in the Canadian Reconciliation Discourse

Video of November 13 talk at SFU now available here.


Noel Castree: Representing the Anthropocene

Love the subtitle: Who will get to speak for everything and how?

Corporate water risk: confusion and ambiguity

An interesting podcast from the Oxford Water Group on corporate water risk here. Thanks to dmfant for the link.

Also, a new article on the financialization of water was posted at Review of Radical Political Economics yesterday. You can get it here, abstract below.

The Financialization of Water
Kate Bayliss
This paper aims to locate developments in water delivery within broader financialization trends
by considering three aspects of water management. First, despite clear failings of privatization
over the past twenty years, state support for the private sector continues. Second, innovations
have emerged so that water consumption generates wealth for private investment finance. Finally,
private enterprises have gained increasing influence in sector policy. The paper demonstrates
that financialization is incompatible with social objectives in water delivery.

Time lapse map of every nuclear explosion: 1945-1998