The state of things: state history and theory reconfigured

Theory and Society 46 (1):1-19 (2017)
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Abstract

This article looks at the relationship between logistical power and the assemblages of sites that constitute modern states. Rather than treating states as centralizing institutions and singular sites of power, we treat them as multi-sited. They gain power by using logistical methods of problem solving, using infrastructures to enforce and depersonalize relations of domination and limit the autonomy of elites. But states necessarily solve diverse problems by different means in multiple locations. So, educating children is not continuous with governing colonies even though both are necessary to nineteenth-century states. For this reason, states use logistical means of coordination to link sites, and they make the power of the state seem unitary even though the exercise of state power is not.

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