Powerful assemblages?

Allen, John (2011). Powerful assemblages? Area, 43(2) pp. 154–157.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2011.01005.x


In thinking through how different registers of power, that are neither centred nor radically dispersed in pattern, come into play with different outcomes in different times and places, the notion of assemblage has its appeal. Two qualities come to mind. First off, it allows for non-coherence as a way of thinking about how institutional arrangements of power more or less hold together, despite being made up of a co-existence of often diverse logics and practices. Second, spatio-temporal assemblages offer a way of understanding the various power plays that shape, say, the politics of regions and nation states, by invoking a topological sensibility around proximity and distance that appears more productive than the familiar topographies of scale and networks. Weighed against such attractions, however, the notion of assemblage lends itself to a number of pitfalls: endless description is one, weak conceptualisation another.

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