Graham Harman: Anthropocene Ontology

Jane Bennett: “Systems and Things: A Materialist and an Object-Oriented Philosopher Walk into a Bar . . . ,”

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).