Topologies of Power: Beyond territory and networks, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Topologies of Power

Beyond territory and networks, 1st Edition

By John Allen


178 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Topologies of Power amounts to a radical departure in the way that power and space have been understood. It calls into question the very idea that power is simply extended across a given territory or network, and argues that power today has a new found ‘reach’. Topological shifts have subtly altered the reach of power, enabling governments, corporations and NGOs alike to register their presence through quieter, less brash forms of power than domination or overt control. In a world in which proximity and distance increasingly play across one another, topology offers an insight into how power remains continuous under transformation: the same but different in its ability to shape peoples’ lives.

Drawing upon a range of political, economic and cultural illustrations, the book sets out a clear and accessible account of the topological workings of power in the contemporary moment. It will be invaluable for both students and academics in human geography, politics, sociology, and cultural studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The changing same of power Part I: Topological Twists 2. Power that Comes with the Territory: An easy geometry 3. Power’s Shifting Reach: A topological distortion 4. Power Reproduced Differently: A topological practice Part II: Powers of Reach 5. The Financial Engineering of Advantage: Power that defies maps 6. Folding in Distant Harms: Spatial experiments with NGO power 7. A Distorted State: Reproducing the power of borders differently 8. Conclusion: Power on the quiet

About the Author

John Allen is Professor of Economic Geography in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at The Open University. His publications include Lost Geographies of Power (2003), in addition to twelve books, both authored and edited.

About the Series


Culture, Economy and the Social

This series establishes the importance of innovative contemporary, comparative and historical work on the relations between social, cultural and economic change. It publishes empirically-based research that is theoretically informed, that critically examines the ways in which social, cultural and economic change is framed and made visible, and that is attentive to perspectives that tend to be ignored or side-lined by grand theorising or epochal accounts of social change. The series addresses the diverse manifestations of contemporary capitalism, and considers the various ways in which the `social', `the cultural' and `the economic' are apprehended as tangible sites of value and practice. It is explicitly comparative, publishing books that work across disciplinary perspectives, cross-culturally, or across different historical periods.

We are particularly focused on publishing books in the following areas that fit with the broad remit of the series:

  • Cultural consumption
  • Cultural economy
  • Cities and urban change
  • Materiality, sociality and the post-human
  • Culture and media industries
  • Culture and governance
  • Emerging forms of cultural and economic practice

The series is actively engaged in the analysis of the different theoretical traditions that have contributed to critiques of the `cultural turn'. We are particularly interested in perspectives that engage with Bourdieu, Foucauldian approaches to knowledge and cultural practices, Actor-network approaches, and with those that are associated with issues arising from Deleuze's work around complexity, affect or topology. The series is equally concerned to explore the new agendas emerging from current critiques of the cultural turn: those associated with the descriptive turn for example. Our commitment to interdisciplinarity thus aims at enriching theoretical and methodological discussion, building awareness of the common ground has emerged in the past decade, and thinking through what is at stake in those approaches that resist integration to a common analytical model.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / Comparative
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General