Molecular Subjects? On change, form and the spatiality of difference

Authors: James Ash*, Newcastle University
Topics: Cultural Geography
Keywords: Subject, subjectivity, difference
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Virginia A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As Simpson (2017) has recently argued, cultural geographer’s engagement with the notion of the subject has led to an account of the spatiality of the subject. That is to say, cultural geographer’s have sought to demonstrate how a subject is distributed and dispersed as a set of molecular and molar relations, rather than as a grounded or a priori entity. In this paper I question such an account of the spatiality of the subject. Instead I suggest that geographers could begin by thinking the form of the subject. Following Garcia (2016), form does not refer to the substantial outline, shape or configuration of an entity. Rather form is understood as the negative of a thing. Working through the implications of this definition of form, the paper suggests the concept offers a distinct way of accounting for difference as a ‘form of successive modification’. When difference is understood in terms of how the qualities of entities begin and end modification becomes a matter of analysing differing modes of comprehension, rather than accounting for the addition, subtraction, accumulation or juxtaposition of entities. In making this argument the paper demonstrates how the concept of form can help cultural geographer’s analyse difference.

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