Space, culture, state: Uneven developments in political geography

Sallie A. Marston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


In this lecture I explore the ways cultural questions relating to identity and meaning-making are fundamentally connected to political questions about power and the adjudicating role of the state. In the first part of the lecture I show how political geography has largely failed to substantively engage cultural questions in its theorizations of the state. I review a growing body of literature outside the discipline that is attempting to examine the process of state formation in response to the ongoing "cultural turn" in the social sciences. I then explore the theoretical relevance of culture to political geography by using the South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade conflict as a way of exposing how the state is responding to the demands for inclusion of newly emerging identity groups. I analyze this case through a close reading of a 1995 Supreme Court decision in order to reveal the judiciary's understanding of the relationship between culture, space, and speech. Of particular importance to my argument is the centrality of the First Amendment to the Court's unanimous decision which granted parade organizers the right to exclude groups whose message is disagreeable to them; a decision premised on the separation of discursive and physical space in the making of cultural meaning and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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