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Fatal Couplings of Power and Difference: Notes on Racism and Geography

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To study the complexities of race and geography, research and analysis should center on the fatally dynamic coupling of power and difference signified by racism. The author considers briefly the theoretical and methodological implications of key frameworks geographers used during the past century to account for racialized power differentials. To illustrate the political, economic, and cultural capacities that historical materialist geographical inquiry ought to consider, the author outlines the background for a new project—a case study of the U.S. during a period of unusually intense state-building in the mid-twentieth century. The article concludes that the political geography of race consists of space, place, and location as shaped simultaneously by gender, class, and scale.

Keywords: difference; political geography; power; racism; twentieth-century U.S

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of California, Berkeley

Publication date: February 1, 2002


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