Political geographies of the object

Katharine Meehan, Ian Graham Ronald Shaw, Sallie A. Marston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


This paper examines the role of objects in the constitution and exercise of state power, drawing on a close reading of the acclaimed HBO television series The Wire, an unconventional crime drama set and shot in Baltimore, Maryland. While political geography increasingly recognizes the prosaic and intimate practices of stateness, we argue that objects themselves are central to the production, organization, and performance of state power. Specifically, we analyze how three prominent objects on The Wire - wiretaps, cameras, and standardized tests - arrange and produce the conditions we understand as 'stateness'. Drawing on object-oriented philosophy, we offer a methodology of power that suggests it is generalized force relations rather than specifically social relations that police a population - without, of course, ever being able to fully capture it. We conclude by suggesting The Wire itself is an object of force, and explore the implications of an object-oriented approach for understanding the nature of power, and for political geography more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPolitical Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Object-oriented philosophy
  • Power
  • Prosaic stateness
  • State theory
  • The Wire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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