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The Political Economy of Regional Infrastructure
Edited by Barney Warf
The Competitiveness Challenge for Secondary Capitals
This chapter examines how ethnography exposes the complex geographies of power. The chapter begins by addressing ethnography’s history in the discipline of geography. While the methodology’s traditional impetus of classification has led to a conception of the world as consisting of discrete cultural and peopled spaces, I argue that ethnography can be used to confront this lingering tendency in the social sciences. Drawing on feminist and post-colonial theories as well as my research experiences, I show that ethnographic practices can intervene in the traditional geographical divisions that have structured social scientific knowledge. A conjoined reading of Gandhi and Fanon’s challenge to racism in their return of the classificatory gaze acts as inspiration for the kind of ethnography advocated in the chapter. I conclude by delineating how an ethnographic approach in geography illuminates the constitution and multiplicity of subjects and knowledge production in and through space.
Seth Schindler, J. Miguel Kanai and Deusdedit Rwehumbiza
In this chapter we chart the rise and fall of regional planning in the global South, and posit that it is re-emerging as an accepted method of state-led development. The chapter consists of three sections and draws on the three UN Habitat Agendas and other policy documents. First, we narrate the emergence of a consensus surrounding regional planning in the global South in the post-independence period. We introduce a number of empirical examples in which regional planning features prominently in state-led developmental agendas. In the second section we show how this consensus was eroded during the neoliberal period. In the final section we chart the re-emergence in recent years of regional planning, this time more decidedly informed by spatially extensive urbanization processes, which culminates in the adoption of the New Urban Agenda after the UN Habitat III process. We conclude by proposing directions for future research on the emergent regime of regionalism in the global South.
Sociospatiality comprises complex, polymorphic relations. Social agents respond through spatial imaginaries and horizons of social action that focus on just some aspects of these relations, generally or in specific contexts. Critical geographers also incline to selective simplification, disagreeing on the best entry-points for sociospatial investigation. This can be illustrated in debates about territory, place, scale, and networks, where one-sided approaches create theoretical deficits, methodological hazards, and restricted empirical analyses. Named after its systematic demarcation of these four moments and its mapping of their possible relations, the ‘TPSN’ schema was developed to counter these problems. It considers different kinds of sociospatial processes and configurations in these terms, commenting on statehood, different kinds of empire, territorial logics and the space of flows, the relativisation of scales, and the limits of spatiotemporal fixes in displacing or deferring sociospatial crisis-tendencies. It also discusses different approaches to sociospatial governance, illustrating them from the European Union.
Humanitarian aid is delivered to war zones, refugee camps, and other diverse spaces where human survival is at risk, but its application is geographically uneven, shaped by geopolitics as much as principles of compassion and neutrality. Humanitarian interventions are constellations of power relations that govern those whom they help and the spaces in which they reside. By exploring international humanitarian law and principles, and then “humanitarian government” and governmentalities, the conditions attached to the “right to life” and related humanitarian intervention are analyzed. What are the prevailing spatialities of humanitarian aid?
Jenna M. Loyd
Prisons are contingent political economic projects, which, following Ruth Gilmore’s work, stitch together the restructuring of the state, land, labor, and capital. This chapter situates the construction of federal prisons in the state of Louisiana between 1982 and 2002 within the context of three fundamental shifts, the restructuring of 1) the regional plantation bloc, after Clyde Woods; 2) the neoliberal state; and 3) the late- and post-Cold War military. In an era of prison overcrowding and budget shortfalls, expansion was not assured, nor was privatization a necessary outcome. I draw upon political economic theories of the carceral state to argue that a multi-scalar, materialist analysis is necessary to explain the paradoxes and geographies of prison expansion. Examining these intergovernmental relationships and how they have evolved through crisis exposes systemic vulnerabilities of the carceral state, and thereby avenues for decarceration.