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Self and space, resistance and discipline: a Foucauldian reading of George Orwell's 1984

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The novel 1984, George Orwell's nightmarish vision of totalitarianism published after the Second World War, remains relevant in the twenty-first century. Orwell's concerns regarding the abuse of power, the denial of self, and the eradication of both past and future continue to resonate in contemporary discussions of politics and society. Geographers, however, have directed minimal attention to the spatiality embedded within 1984. Accordingly, in this paper I examine the theoretical implications of space, resistance and discipline as manifest in the novel. Drawing on the theoretical insights of Michel Foucault, I detail how the spatial and temporal control of everyday activities serves to discipline spaces within a totalitarian society. Moreover, I suggest that 1984 illustrates how the production of knowledge through the act of writing may forge spaces of resistance within disciplined spaces. This paper contributes, therefore, in two areas, these being resistance geographies and fictive geographies.
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Keywords: George Orwell; discipline; literature; resistance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography Kent State University Kent OH 44242-0001 USA

Publication date: 2004-03-01

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