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The topological multiplicities of power: the limits of governing the Olympics


Müller, Martin (2014). The topological multiplicities of power: the limits of governing the Olympics. Economic Geography, 90(3):321-339.

Abstract

This article proposes that economic geography would benefit from a closer consideration of the topological multiplicities of power, that is, the multiple contending configurations of networks that make power a precarious accomplishment through creating constant overflows. It develops this argument by tracing how the circulation of knowledge in the preparation for the Olympic Games establishes sociomaterial networks that are meant to allow the International Olympic Committee to coordinate the organization of the event. On the basis of Bruno Latour's concept of the oligopticon, the article develops a sociomaterial notion of power to govern at a distance that emerges through the triple movement of collecting and mobilizing information, casting it into stable intermediaries, and recirculating knowledge. At the same time, a parallel narrative considers how this power and its spatial reach remain always partial and are transformed by overflows as elements move in and out of networks and how forces outside the network bear on it, creating “absent presences.” Giving adequate attention to these topological multiplicities of sociomaterial networks offers an important counterweight to the dominant notion of stable social networks in economic geography and is particularly useful when analyzing the governance of projects and various other forms of ephemeral, distributed organizing.

Abstract

This article proposes that economic geography would benefit from a closer consideration of the topological multiplicities of power, that is, the multiple contending configurations of networks that make power a precarious accomplishment through creating constant overflows. It develops this argument by tracing how the circulation of knowledge in the preparation for the Olympic Games establishes sociomaterial networks that are meant to allow the International Olympic Committee to coordinate the organization of the event. On the basis of Bruno Latour's concept of the oligopticon, the article develops a sociomaterial notion of power to govern at a distance that emerges through the triple movement of collecting and mobilizing information, casting it into stable intermediaries, and recirculating knowledge. At the same time, a parallel narrative considers how this power and its spatial reach remain always partial and are transformed by overflows as elements move in and out of networks and how forces outside the network bear on it, creating “absent presences.” Giving adequate attention to these topological multiplicities of sociomaterial networks offers an important counterweight to the dominant notion of stable social networks in economic geography and is particularly useful when analyzing the governance of projects and various other forms of ephemeral, distributed organizing.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:05 Nov 2014 16:57
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:28
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0013-0095
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/ecge.12032

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