For Post-Statist Geographies

By Anthony Ince

This article critically investigates past and contemporary treatments of the state within geographical scholarship. We propose that there is a silent statism within geography that has shaped it in ways that limit geographical imaginations. Statism, herein, refers to a pervasive, historically contingent organisational logic that valourises and naturalises sovereign, coercive, and hierarchical relationships, within and beyond state spaces. We argue that although the explicit, colonial statism that characterised early geography is past, traces of statism nonetheless underpin much of the discipline.

While political geography has increasingly critiqued ‘state-centrism’, we argue that it is essential to move beyond critique alone. Using anarchist state theory to critically build upon perspectives in geography, we argue that statism is intellectually and politically problematic and should be recast as an active constituent of unequal social relations. In turn, we outline five core myths that form its logical foundations. In concluding, three initial areas in which post-statist geographies can make inroads are identified: interrogating intersections between statism and other power relations; constructing post-statist epistemologies and methodologies; and addressing how the state is represented in geographical work.


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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