Culture, geography, and the arts of government

Barnett, Clive (2001). Culture, geography, and the arts of government. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 19(1) pp. 7–24.



This paper endeavors to prise open the theoretical closure of the conceptualization of culture in contemporary human geography. Foucault's later work on government provides the basis for a useable definition of culture as an object of analysis which avoids problems inherent in abstract, generalizing and expansive notions of culture. The emergence of this Foucauldian approach in cultural studies is discussed, and the distinctive conceptualization of the relations between culture and power that it implies are elaborated. This re-conceptualization informs a critical project of tracking the institutional formation of the cultural and the deployment of distinctively cultural forms of regulation into the fabric of modern social life. It is argued that the culture-and-government approach needs to be supplemented by a more sustained consideration of the spatiality and scale of power-relations. It is also suggested that this approach might through into new perspective the dynamics behind geography's own cultural turn.

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