Faculty of Social Sciences
John Allen’s teaching and research experience includes work on issues of power and spatiality, more recently in relation to state spatiality, regional assemblages, global cities, pragmatism and topology.
He is currently engaged on an ESRC funded research project with colleagues at The Open University and The University of Exeter entitled ‘Biosecurity Borderlands’ and is curious about the nature and meaning of biopower.
He has taught at The Open University for over thirty years and has a long-standing commitment to both introductory and interdisciplinary courses in the Social Sciences. He is a member of the Academy of Social Sciences and has held Visiting Professorships in both Australia and Switzerland. He is currently Deputy Chair of the University’s Research Committee.
I am currently a member of the Faculty’s Foundation Course Team Introducing the Social Sciences (DD101), having written on power and supermarkets for the Making Social Lives text published in 2009. Prior to that, I wrote on sweatshops and political responsibility for Living in a Globalised World (DD205 ), which was published as part of a collection by Sage in 2008, as Geographies of Globalisation.
I believe strongly in the dynamic between teaching and research, and have practised that in over thirteen Open University courses, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
My research interests fall into two related areas, both of which have tended to blend into one another at various times. I have a long-standing interest in the relationship between geography and power, more specifically the difference that spatiality makes to the way that power works in its various modalities, from domination and authority through to seduction and manipulation.
In 2003, I published a book-length treatment on the subject, Lost Geographies of Power (Oxford , Blackwell) and am currently exploring a range of topological insights into power’s spatial twists and turns in these more complex, globalised times. This is currently being written under the working title of Topologies of Power for Routedge publications. I have also recently become interested in the nature of biopower and what a nonhuman dimension to power might look like when the ‘power’ to make life live is the central focus of enquiry. This interest is currently explored through funded research in the poultry farm and food processing industries in the UK.
In parallel to this broad topic of spatiality and power, I have for some time been interested in the work of George Simmel and Siegfried Kracauer. The two theorists have informed much of my thinking on public spaces and seduction in an urban context, as well as giving me an insight into phenomenological accounts of the urban. This work has appeared in journals such as New Formations and Urban Studies.
John Allen is a member of the OpenSpace Research Centre.
A selection of my research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.
Topological Twists: Power's Shifting Geographies, Dialogues in Human Geography, (2011) Vol.1 (3), pp 283-298.
Powerful City Networks: More than Connection, Less than Domination and Control, Uban Studies, (2010) Vol.47 (13), pp 2895-2911 .
Assemblages of State Power: Topological Shifts in the Organization of Government and Politics, Antipode, (2010) Vol.42 (5), pp 1071-1089 (with Allan Cochrane).
Changing Landscapes of Power: The City and Finance in Reading the Economy: The UK in the 21st Century (eds) Coe, N. and Jones, A., (2010) Sage Publications, pp 49-60.
Pragmatism and Power: Political Experiments with Space and Place in Penser L’Espace Politique (ed) Rosiere, S. and Vacchiani-Marcuzzo, C., (2010). Ellipses
Three Spaces of Power: Territory, Networks, plus a Topological twist in the Tale of Domination and Authority, Journal of Power, (2009), Vol.2 (2), pp 197-212.
Pragmatism and Power, Or the Power to Make a difference in a Radically Contingent World, Geoforum, (2008), No 39, pp 1613-1624.
Powerful Geographies: Spatial Shifts in the Architecture of Globalization in The Handbook of Power (eds) Clegg, S. and Haugaard, C., (2008) Sage, Los Angeles, London, Dehli, Singapore, pp 157-173.
La Responsbilité Globale au Travail: au-delà des Reseaux de Sweatshop in Laboratories du Travail (eds) Rosende, M. and Benelli, N., (2008) Antipodes, Lausanne, pp 93-104.
Claiming Connections: A Distant World of Sweatshops? In Geographies of Globalization (eds) Robinson, J., Rose, G. and Barnett, C., (2008), Sage, Los Angeles, London, Dehli, Singapore, pp 7-54.
Beyond the Territorial Fix: Regional Assemblages, Politics and Power, Regional Studies, (2007), Vol. 41, pp 1161-1175 (with Allan Cochrane).
The Cultural Spaces of Siegfried Kracauer: The Many Surfaces of Berlin, New Formations, (2007), No 61, pp 20-33.
Ambient Power: Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz and the Seductive Logic of Public Space, Urban Studies (2006, Vol. 43, pp 441-455 (translated in Italian, in Copeta, C (ed) 2006, Geografie e Ambienti Caccucci Editore, Bari).
A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.
Last updated: 8 November 2012