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In the Space of Theory

Postfoundational Geographies of the Nation-State

2005
Author:

Matthew Sparke

In the Space of Theory

Considers the contemporary crisis of the nation-state in North America

Debunking deterritorialization both as a discourse and as an antiessentialist abstraction, Matthew Sparke examines the contemporary geographies of the United States and Canada. Engaged with theory and grounded in close study of cultural, political, and economic change, In the Space of Theory explores the geographies of struggle that at once underlie and undermine the hyphen in contemporary nation-states.

This engaging book ranges from a First Nations court case in Canada to the Iraqi War to remind us of the protean nature of spatial formations through which the nation-state continually reimagines and reasserts itself.

Priscilla Wald, author of Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form

How is the meaning of the hyphen in “nation-state” changing in the context of globalization and proliferating political struggles? How can we investigate the transformation of the nation-state by marking the normally unmarked hyphen in “geo-graphy”? Debunking deterritorialization both as a discourse and as an antiessentialist abstraction, Matthew Sparke offers answers to these questions by examining the contemporary geographies of the United States and Canada.

In the Space of Theory details the territorial implications of the Iraq war, NAFTA, welfare reform, constitutional reform, cross-border regional development, and the legal battles of First Nations. In using antiessentialist arguments to elucidate the complexity of these developments, Sparke seeks to ground and critique postfoundational theory itself. He shows how the postfoundational arguments of Homi Bhabha, Arjun Appadurai, Timothy Mitchell, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Michael Hardt, and Antonio Negri obscure politically important processes of reterritorialization at the same time they deterritorialize diverse theoretical assumptions about the nation-state. Engaged with theory and grounded in close study of cultural, political, and economic change, In the Space of Theory explores the geographies of struggle that at once underlie and undermine the hyphen in contemporary nation-states.

In the Space of Theory

Matthew Sparke is associate professor of geography and international studies at the University of Washington.

In the Space of Theory

This engaging book ranges from a First Nations court case in Canada to the Iraqi War to remind us of the protean nature of spatial formations through which the nation-state continually reimagines and reasserts itself.

Priscilla Wald, author of Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form

At once erudite and ethical, Sparke's eloquent geo-graphing is worldly, compelling, and generative for the theorization of power and spatiality.

Donald S. Moore, author of Suffering for Territory: Race, Place, and Power in Zimbabwe

Exposes the messy geo-politics of the nation-state's continuing negotiations with cultural minorities, constitutional crises, transnational capitalism, and terrorists with theoretical sophistication and empirical intelligence.

Gearóid Ó Tuathail, editor of Geopolitics Reader, Second Edition

In this book Sparke brings together a wealth of empirical material and combines it with a sophisticated, sensitive theoretical imagination.

Environment and Planning

In The Space of Theory is a major contribution to critical political geography, it transcends disciplinarity bringing a geographic critique to central themes in contemporary social and political theory.

Annals of the Association of American Geographers

The extraordinary achievement of Matt Sparke’s In the Space of Theory is to document with unprecedented care and detail the breadth and depth of what could be called the virtual obliteration of space. In the Space of Theory marks a new phase in critical geopolitics of geographical knowledge, one that is superbly attentive to the political and ethical challenges posed by territorial hardening and the new cartographies of the borders, both metaphorical and real. Matt Sparke has written a rich and eloquent study of the changing idea of the nation-state in North America. In the Space of Theory, Matt Sparke investigates geography at the nexus of what he calls, ‘geo-writing’ and ‘geo-graphing.’ Sparke has written a bold, rewarding, and significant book.

Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

In the Space of Theory is a very impressive book: well written, timely, deeply interesting, empirically rich, theoretically informed and extremely humane.

New Zealand Geographer

A substantial work. Clear and enlightening. Recommended.

Choice

In the Space of Theory is a timely and welcome contribution to border studies. Sparke crafts an engaging whole that is timely, smart and a pleasure to read.

Social and Cultural Geography

Matthew Sparke’s recent book is the best ‘What are you reading?’ book I have read in the past year. Sparke has produced a book that I suspect many geographers and political theorists will want to read.

The Geographical Review

In the Space of Theory is an elaborate, dense and rewarding treatment of the ‘problem’ of spatial abstraction at the core of contemporary political philosophy.

Theory & Event

Scholars interested in critical geopolitics, international relations, globalization, modern imperialism, and theoretical concepts of space will profit a great deal from this well-written book.

Canadian Journal of Sociology