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Material Politics: Disputes Along the Pipeline




Material Politics: Disputes Along the Pipeline

Andrew Barry

ISBN: 978-1-118-52911-9 November 2013 Wiley-Blackwell 258 Pages



In Material Politics, author Andrew Barry reveals that as we are beginning to attend to the importance of materials in political life, materials has become increasingly bound up with the production of information about their performance, origins, and impact.

  • Presents an original theoretical approach to political geography by revealing the paradoxical relationship between materials and politics
  • Explores how political disputes have come to revolve not around objects in isolation, but objects that are entangled in ever growing quantities of information about their performance, origins, and impact
  • Studies the example of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline – a fascinating experiment in transparency and corporate social responsibility – and its wide-spread negative political impact
  • Capitalizes on the growing interdisciplinary interest, especially within geography and social theory, about the critical role of material artefacts in political life

Series Editors’ Preface viii

List of Figures and Tables ix

Acknowledgements x

Abbreviations xiii

1 Introduction 1

2 The Georgian Route: Between Political and Physical Geography 31

3 Transparency ’ s Witness 57

4 Ethical Performances 75

5 The Affected Public 95

6 Visible Impacts 116

7 Material Politics 137

8 Economy and the Archive 154

9 Conclusions 177

Notes 187

References 202


“[Barry's] methods of inquiry, attention to detail, and brilliant accounts of the roles materials played in knowledge controversies are standout contributions to the field and challenge several of the assumptions of now-common disciplinary gestures to new materialisms.”  (Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 1 October 2014)

“Despite the presence of some very prominent and overcoded political actors in this project, such as global oil companies, NGOs, activists and national governments, Barry’s meticulous attention to seemingly minor elements and complex relations displaces any recourse to easy reductionism. The usual suspects become part of a multitude of participants entangled in the project’s controversies, and their overt political capacities are often displaced or disabled by the performance of the most mundane things. In this analysis systemic patterns of causation are difficult to identify. Barry maps relational complexity with incredible skill, and the result is a sophisticated account of the contingencies of politics.”  (Contemporary Political Theory, 18 November 2014)

“Andrew Barry’s genius as a writer is that he teaches you something new about something that you thought you already knew.”  (Science & Technology Studies, 1 November 2014)