Epoch-making political events are often remembered for their spatial markers: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the storming of the Bastille, the occupation of Tiananmen Square:. Until recently, however, political theory has overlooked the power of place. In Radical Space, Margaret Kohn puts space at the center of democratic theory. Kohn examines different sites of working-class mobilization in Europe and explains how these sites destabilized the existing patterns of social life, economic activity, and political participation. Her approach suggests new ways to understand the popular public sphere of the early twentieth century.This book imaginatively integrates a range of sources, including critical theory, social history, and spatial analysis. Drawing on the historical record of cooperatives, houses of the people, and chambers of labor, Kohn shows how the built environment shaped people's actions, identities, and political behavior. She illustrates how the symbolic and social dimensions of these places were mobilized as resources for resisting oppressive political relations. The author shows that while many such sites of resistance were destroyed under fascism, they created geographies of popular power that endure to the present.
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"Margaret Kohn has written a terrific book. It is theoretically powerful, substantively interesting, well and convincingly argued, and filled with effective and well elaborated historical scholarship."—Michael Shapiro, University of Hawaii
"In this book, Margaret Kohn investigates the political significance of space in a geographic sense. Radical Space also shows that different spaces relate to each other or are linked together in politically charged ways."—Paul A. Passavant, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
"The empirical focus of Radical Space is Italian working-class life at the turn of the nineteenth century, but its arguments can be generalized to other times and places. Kohn's novel point is that the physical spaces of association themselves contribute to the democratic and emancipatory potential of an independent working class. Unlike other political scientists who argue that cohesion and solidarity are produced at the factory, Kohn suggests that workers' cohesion and solidarity are produced in locations of sociability."—Mabel Berezin, Cornell University
"A political philosopher of unusual breadth and sensitivity, Margaret Kohn theorizes with rich geohistorical detail the microspaces of resistance and nodes of radical democracy that emerged in Gramsci's Italy. She also extends her incisive spatial imagination to more contemporary political struggles to democratize the geographies of power in which we live."—Edward W. Soja, Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA, author of Postmodern Geographies, Thirdspace, and PostmetropolisAbout the Author:
Kohn is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
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