In their article, “Political geographies of the object,” Meehan, Shaw, and Marston (2013) introduce and explore some of the implications of object-oriented ontology (OOO) for political geography. Their analysis uses The Wire – a television drama about the legitimate and illegitimate forces affecting drug trade and policing in Baltimore – to consider how objects such as wiretaps, cameras and standardized tests affect power. Their theoretical aim is to move political geography beyond textual/discursive examinations of the state or those focusing on material/social relations. To do so, the authors appeal to OOO, which is gaining momentum in several fields beyond its originating home in continental philosophy. The implications of OOO are intriguing. So too are the problems. Particularly problematic, as this commentary identifies, is the question of what approaching the state as an object implies – a question left untouched in Meehan et al.’s provocative piece. I raise this problem because OOO requires approaching the state as a real object and this contrasts with political geographies that aim to avoid reifying the spatial extension of the state (i.e. territory) or its abstract relations. I begin with an overview of OOO that situates Meehan et al.’s arguments.
Schmidt, J. J. (2014). The retreating state: Political geographies of the object and the proliferation of space. Political Geography, 39, 58-59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2013.11.004