Topologies of Power : Beyond territory and networks book cover
1st Edition

Topologies of Power
Beyond territory and networks

ISBN 9780415521345
Published February 16, 2016 by Routledge
188 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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

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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.


Topologies of Power offers an innovative and compelling account of power, space, and the subtle and curious relations between them. By thinking power topologically John Allen shows how the influence of institutions as diverse as banks, NGOs and states depends less on physical distance than on their capacities to reshape space and distort geographical reach. Allen is a genuinely original thinker and there is no better guide to this fascinating and sometimes strange topological world.  Joe Painter, Professor of Geography, University of Durham, UK