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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Readings in historico-geographical materialism Castree, Noel


As the twentieth century comes to a close Marxism, as an intellectual and political force, is widely considered to be in a state of terminal decline. In the English-speaking world Marxism is often seen as essentially an economistic discourse, unable to deal with questions of power and subjectivity that have recently become the focus of so much academic concern. In this thesis I contest that view by exploring the cultural theory contained in David Harvey's 'historico-geographical materialism'. Harvey, perhaps the leading exponent of geographically inflected materialist analysis, has produced a considerable amount of work exploring how capital entails a particular mode of sociation that is consequential for our very subjectivities. Yet his work, I contend, is little understood. In an account that is both exegetical and critical I seek to illuminate the central aspects of Harvey’s interventions into the cultural realm and suggest the limits of his contrual of what I call 'the subject of capital' in making sense of the complexities of late twentieth century societies. As such this thesis is more than simply a meditation on the work of one individual. It is also a critical investigation of a particular kind of Marxism -'classical' Marxism - and an evaluation of where, today, that venerable problematic leaves those trying to make sense of our subjection in contemporary society.

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