On the Image of the Country and the City

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Abstract

We know from the Grundrisse that Marx felt the division of town and country to be as vital to political economy as the division of classes. From the Manifesto we know that he saw this division as a homological version of the dependency created by capitalism of global South on global North. It was, however, the cultural theorists of twentieth-century Marxism who internalized this geopolitical imagination and significantly developed it in the form of scales and configurations of spatial meaning contained in the concepts “city” and “country”. The structuralist revolt against history, then, as a bid to arrest historical becoming, must really be seen as a perverse analogue of earlier twentieth century Marxist innovations in the spatialization of time. Thinkers like Ernst Bloch, Henri Lefebvre, and Raymond Williams, although unheralded for this aspect of their work, developed Marx's nascent city/country pairing, exploring the materiality of its metaphor. In geography, it is Neil Smith's Uneven Development that follows in the footsteps of this “classical” motif in literary and cultural theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-51
Number of pages18
JournalAntipode
Volume49
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Western Marxism
  • cultural materialism
  • imperialism
  • the country and the city

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