Benedict Anderson incorporates spatial dimensions of analysis intohis account of the power of nationalist ideologies to forge politicalidentities.
There have also been efforts to connect reflections about spacedirectly to politics. In
for instance, Doreen Massey chal-lenges the widespread “fact that space has so often been excludedfrom, or inadequately conceptualized in relation to, and has thereby debilitated our conceptions of, politics and the political,” and thendevelops “an argument for the recognition of particular characteris-tics of space and for a politics that can respond to them.”
puts spatial concerns at the center of democratic theory by examining different sites of working-class andpopular mobilizations in Western Europe.
She focuses on the cre-ation of
case del popolo
(“houses of the people”) as sites of resistanceand transformative political practices in turn-of-the-[twentieth]-century Italy. For her, political groups created distinctive places todevelop new identities and practices, while using such public spacesto democratize ever-widening sets of social relations.And if these affirmed relations are not as stark as Henri Lefebvre’sbold assertion that “Space is political,” that is, “not a scientificobject removed from ideology or politics,” but “always . . . politicaland strategic,” then it is still regarded as integral for analyzingsocial reality and political practices today.
Viewed in this light, it isunsurprising that Hardt and Negri’s widely discussed books
put issues such as space, territorialization, and deter-ritorialization at the heart of their analyses.
In sum, it is fair to say that in contemporary political theory, at both the explanatory andnormative levels of analysis, locutions such as “private and publicspaces,” “the conception of a plurality of political spaces,” the publicsphere as “a space of opposition and accountability,” “quasi-publicspace,” “spaces of resistance,” “territorialization and deterritorial-ization,” “public spaces of freedom,” “dialogic spaces,” and so forth,continue to flourish in our attempts to come to terms with the latemodern condition.
Despite this proliferating theoretical and empirical discourse,however, the precise meaning of the category of space has not been rendered more perspicuous. To the contrary, not only isthere significant dispute about the different meanings of space, but there has been much debate about its importance for social andpolitical analysis. In this article, I begin by considering these ambigu-ities and disputes, after which I endeavor to develop a category of space that can inform our understanding of social and physical space,while profitably addressing a number of pressing questions in con-temporary political theory. I then explore the ethical and political