1st Edition

Direction and Socio-spatial Theory A Political Economy of Oriented Practice

By Matthew Hannah Copyright 2019
    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    232 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The embodied directedness of human practice has long been neglected in critical socio-spatial theory, in favor of analyses focused upon distance and proximity. This book illustrates the absence of a sense for direction in much theoretical discourse and lays important groundwork for redressing this lacuna in socio-spatial theory.

    Many accounts of the social world are incomplete, or are increasingly out of step with recent developments of neoliberal capitalism. Not least through new technological mediations of production and consumption, the much-discussed waning of the importance of physical distance has been matched by the increasing centrality of turning from one thing to another as a basic way in which lives are structured and occupied. A sensibility for embodied processes of turning, and for phenomena of direction more generally, is urgently needed. Chapters develop wide-ranging and original engagements with the arguments of Sara Ahmed, Jonathan Beller, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Virginia Held, Bernard Stiegler, Theodore Schatzki, Rahel Jaeggi, Hartmut Rosa and David Harvey.

    This book reinterprets practice, embodiment, alienation, reification, social reproduction and ethical responsibility from a directional perspective. It will be a new valuable resource and reference for political and social geography students, as well as sociologists and anthropologists.


    Part I: Foundations

    1. Political economies of attention

    2. Toward a political phenomenology of attention

    3. The directedness of practice

    Part II: Turning-in-the-world

    4. Turning subject

    5. Turning-as-relation: direction, alienation and montage

    6. Turning and reification

    Part III: Direction, socio-spatial theory and ethics

    7. Occupation and directed practice: outline of a political economy

    8. Visualizing directed social practice

    Conclusion: ethics and directional responsibility



    Matthew G. Hannah holds the Chair in Cultural Geography at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. His research has addressed relations between constructions of space, power and state knowledge, as well as various aspects of social theory and historical geography. His previous books include Governmentality and the Mastery of Territory in Nineteenth Century America (2000) and Dark Territory in the Information Age: Learning from the West German Census Controversies of the 1980s (2010).

    "It has been a very long time since I have read a book as lucidly argued and learned as this one. Starting with the basic fact of human finitude and the simple notion that a human being can attend to only so much at once, Matthew Hannah proceeds step by step to reinvigorate and rework social-spatial theory -- an enterprise that has somehow underplayed what human attention implies for human being and becoming more generally. Hannah has an abiding concern with the irreducible embodiment of human being and he carefully shows what is at stake when contemporary capitalism places our embodiment under increasing strain. Hannah's intelligence is truly rare and the clarity with which he reveals it is even rarer. He is comfortable navigating a stunning range of scholarship, also seeming never to lose his way nor his purpose in underscoring the ethical dimensions of this project. This is a book for all geographers, all spatial thinkers and practitioners, indeed for anyone who is philosophically, ethically, and critically inclined. Direction and Social-spatial Theory is a terrific and marvelous achievement." George Henderson, Professor of Geography, University of Minnesota, USA