Doing Social Theory

All of my work engages with social theory, working through the ideas of particular thinkers or traditions of thought, as well particular concepts (e.g. representation, discourse, action, publicness). Sometimes, this engagement involves confronting concepts and theories with empirical materials, sometimes it involves thinking through the logic of theoretical arguments per se. Just what social theory is good for is also a recurring focus of my teaching (I have even made a succinct statement on just what Theory might refer to in Human Geography). In addition to, and overlapping with, my research on the Geographies of Public Life, the Spaces of Democracy, Urban Things and South Africa, my engagements with social theory includes work on postcolonialism; a long-standing interest in the uses of Foucault‘s work in social science and the humanities (not least in relation to critical theories of neoliberalism, and including treatments of concepts such as discourse, governmentality, and problematization); a similar interest in Derrida and deconstruction; an ongoing engagement with various strands of philosophical thinking in geography (in particular around ideas of justice, care, and responsibility, as well as in theories of action and rationality), which is related in turn to conceptual and empirical work on geographies of globalization (including research on the local politics of global responsibility); and last, but by no means least, work which attempts to make sense of the cultures of travelling theory. Under that last heading I am trying to make sense of the practices through which the meaning of ‘Theory’ comes to be understood as referring to a more or less flexible canon of ideas over which one is meant to display refined forms of expository mastery. Under the preceding headings, as well as in much of the Research work listed on other pages, I like to think that I am trying to do something with ideas – something which is not just ‘application’ or ‘testing’, but something closer to learning to reason in a certain way, as a means of finding an intellectual voice of my own.

To an extent, the themes below are different ways of arranging research listed under different headings elsewhere on this site, in order to draw out some of the recurring theoretical hang-ups that I am trying to work out in my work (and no doubt I could cut them in various different ways again). I had a Marxist education of sorts, and much of my interest in social theory is shaped by a concern to make sense of what might be “living and dead” in that tradition of thought, even though that is not something I have often written about very explicitly. This essay is one place where I have done so:

Barnett, C. (2011). Class (Part II). In J. Agnew and J. S. Duncan (eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Human Geography. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 426-439.

This piece, as with many of the other pieces I have written listed on this page and others on this site, is concerned not least with reflecting on the vocation of ‘being critical’ in social science and the humanities.

 

Key Publications

Postcolonial Theory:

Barnett, C. (1995). Awakening the dead: Who needs the history of geography? Transactions of Institute of British Geographers NS, 20, 417-419.

Barnett, C. (1996). ‘A choice of nightmares’: narration and desire in Heart of Darkness. Gender, Place and Culture, 3, 277-291.

Barnett, C. (1997), J.M. Coetzee: Censorship and its doubles. Ariel: Review of International English Literature, 27, 145-162.

Barnett, C. (1998). Impure and worldly geography: The Africanist discourse of the Royal Geographical Society.. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS, 23, 239-251.

Barnett, C. (1997). Sing along with the common people: politics, postcolonialism and other figures. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 15, 137-154.

Barnett, C. (1999). Constructions of apartheid in the international reception of the novels of J.M. Coetzee. Journal of Southern African Studies, 25, 287-301.

Barnett, C. (2006). Disseminating Africa: Burdens of representation and the African Writers Series. New Formations, 57, 74-94.

Barnett, C. (2015). Postcolonialism: Powers of representation. In S. Aitken and G. Valentine (eds.) Approaches to Human Geography, 2nd Edition. London: Sage, pp. 163-180.

 

Doing things with Foucault:

Barnett, C. (1999). Culture, government, and spatiality: re-assessing the Foucault effect in cultural-policy studies. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 2, 369-397. ISSN: 1367-8779.

Barnett, C. (2001). Culture, geography and the arts of government. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 19, 7-24. ISSN: 0263-7758.

Barnett, C. (2001). Culture, policy and subsidiarity in the European Union: From symbolic identity to the governmentalisation of culture. Political Geography, 20, 405-426. ISSN: 0962-6298.

Barnett, C. (2000). Governing cultural diversity in South African media policy. Continuum: Journal of Cultural and Media Studies, 14, 51-66.

Barnett, C. (2005). The consolations of neoliberalism. Geoforum, 36, 7-12.

Barnett, C., Cloke, P., Clarke, N., & Malpass, A. (2005). Consuming ethics: Articulating the subjects and spaces of ethical consumption. Antipode, 37, 23-45.

Barnett, C, Cloke, P, Clarke, N, and Malpass, A. (2008). The elusive subjects of neoliberalism: beyond the analytics of governmentality. Cultural Studies 22, 624-653.

Barnett, C. (2015). On Problematization: elaborations on a theme in “Late Foucault”. nonsite.org 16. 

Barnett, C. (2015). On the milieu of security: situating the emergence of new spaces of public actionDialogues in Human Geography 5:3, 1-34. ISSN: 2043-8206.

Barnett, C. (2015). The Scandal of PublicityDialogues in Human Geography 5:3, 296-300.

Barnett, C. and Bridge, G. (2017). The situations of urban inquiry: thinking problematically about the city. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.

 

Doings things with Deconstruction:

Barnett, C. (1996). A choice of nightmares: narration and desire in Heart of Darkness. Gender, Place and Culture, 3, 277-291.

Barnett, C. (1998). Impure and worldly geography: The Africanist discourse of the Royal Geographical Society. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS, 23, 239-251.

Barnett, C. (1997). Sing along with the common people: politics, postcolonialism and other figures. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 15, 137-154.

Barnett, C. (1999). Deconstructing context: exposing Derrida. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS, 24, 277-293. ISSN: 0020 2754.

Barnett, C. (2005). Ways of Relating: Hospitality and the acknowledgement of otherness. Progress in Human Geography, 29, 1-17.

Barnett, C. (2005). Life after Derrida. Antipode, 37, 239-241.

Dikeç, M., Clark, N., and Barnett, C. (2009). Giving Space, Taking Time. In Dikeç, M., Clark, N., and Barnett, C. (eds.) Giving space, taking time: extending hospitality. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 1-14. ISBN 9780748638901.

 

Geography and Philosophy:

Barnett, C. (2005). Who Cares?, in P.Cloke, P. Crang, and M. Goodwin (eds.) Introducing Human Geography (2nd Edition). Arnold, pp. 588-601.

Barnett, C., Cafaro, P., & Newholm, T. (2005) Philosophy and Ethical Consumption, in R. Harrison, T. Newholm, and D. Shaw (eds.) The Ethical Consumer. Sage, pp. 11-24. ISBN: 141290353X.

Barnett, C. and Land, D. (2007). Geographies of generosity: Beyond the moral turn. Geoforum, 38, 1065-1075.

Barnett, C. (2008). Political affects in public space: normative blind-spots in non-representational ontologies. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS, 33, 186-200.

Barnett, C. (2010). The politics of behaviour change. Environment and Planning A, 42, 1881-1886.

Barnett, C. (2009). Violence and publicity: constructions of political responsibility after 9/11Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy, 12, 353-375.

Barnett, C. (2011). Geography and ethics: Justice unbound. Progress in Human Geography. 35(2) 246–255.

Barnett, C. (2012). Geography and ethics: Placing life in the space of reasons. Progress in Human Geography 36(3), pp. 379–388.

Barnett, C. (2014). Geography and ethics: from moral geographies to geographies of worth. Progress in Human Geography 38, 151-160. 

 

Geographies of Globalization:

Low, M. & Barnett, C. (2000). After Globalisation. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 18, 53-62.

Barnett, C., Cloke, P., Clarke, N., & Malpass, A. (2005). Consuming ethics: Articulating the subjects and spaces of ethical consumption. Antipode, 37, 23-45.

Clarke, N., Barnett, C., Cloke, P., and Malpass, A. (2007). Globalising the Consumer: Doing politics in an ethical register. Political Geography, 26, 231-249. ISSN: 0962-6298.

Clarke, N., Barnett., C., Cloke, P., and Malpass, A. (2007). The political rationalities of fair-trade consumption in the United Kingdom. Politics and Society, 35, 583-607.

Barnett, C., Robinson, J., and Rose, G. (eds.) (2008). Geographies of Globalisation: A Demanding World. Sage. 417 pages.

Pykett, J., Cloke, P., Barnett, C., Clarke, N., and Malpass, A. (2010). Learning to be global citizens: the rationalities of fair trade education. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 28, 487-508.

 

Cultures of Theory:

Barnett, C. (1993). Stuck in the post. Antipode, 25, 365-368.

Barnett, C. (1993). Peddling postmodernism. Antipode, 25, 345-358.

Barnett, C. (1995). Awakening the dead: Who needs the history of geography? Transactions of Institute of British Geographers NS, 20, 417-419.

Barnett, C. (1995), Why theory? On Geographical Imaginations. Economic Geography. 61, 427-435. Barnett, C. (1995).

Barnett, C. (1996), Re-working theory. Economic Geography, 62, 80-81.

Barnett, C. and Low, M. (1996). Speculating on Theory: Towards a political economy of academic publishing. Area, 28, 13-24.

Barnett, C. (1998). The cultural turn: fashion or progress in human geography? Antipode, 30, 379-394. 

Barnett, C. (1998). Cultural twists and turns. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 16, 631-634.  

Barnett, C. (2001). Culture, geography and the arts of government. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 19, 7-24. ISSN: 0263-7758.

Barnett, C. (2004). A critique of the cultural turn. In J. S. Duncan, N. C. Johnson and R. H. Schein (eds.) A Companion to Cultural Geography. Blackwell, pp. 38-48.

Barnett, C. (2011). Theory and events. Geoforum, 42, 263–265.

Banks, M. and Barnett, C. (eds.) (2012). The Uses of Social Science. The Open University. 367 pages. 

Barnett, C. (2013). Theory as political technology (Review of Arts of the Political). Antipode, July. http://radicalantipode.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/book-review_barnett-on-amin-and-thrift.pdf

 

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