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