Methods and Nations
Cultural Governance and the Indigenous Subject
Routledge – 2004 – 272 pages
Series: Global Horizons
Methods and Nations critiques one of the primary deployments of twentieth-century social science: comparative politics whose major focus has been "nation-building" in the "Third World," often attempting to universalize and render self-evident its own practices. International relations theorists, unable to resist the "cognitive imperialism" of a state-centric social science, have allowed themselves to become colonized. Michael Shapiro seeks to bring recognition to forms of political expression-alternative modes of intelligibility for things, people, and spaces-that have existed on the margins of the nationhood practices of states and the complicit nation-sustaining conceits of social science.
"No one writing in English today has as a wider command over diverse references or develops more profound insights from them. This is a book about the overcoding of the nation and its effects. Hence, Shapiro must address philosophy, cultural theory, film, music, novels, television, and more to pursue the target. This book makes us think again about the narrative of the nation and feel the cultural costs it continues to impose." -- William E. Connolly, author of Neuropolitics: Thinking, Culture, Speed
"At the time when Area Studies is being restituted (or risks to be so) to fulfill its original function (e.g., production of knowledge for national security), it is refreshing to read an epistemic indictment that places the knowing subject at the forefront and the 'Area' as a geo-historical condition of knowledge rather than a transparent object of study. In Methods and Nations, Michael J. Shapiro has made a superb contribution to the geo-politics of knowledge and a critique to the idea that the knower could be the transparent and neutral subject of a plain and objective 'area' constructed as a territory full of memories and national symbols." -- Walter D. Mignolo, William H. Wannamaker Professor and Director, Center for Global Studies and the Humanities; Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Research, Duke University
"This engaging book looks at a question that the sits at the intellectually charged border of political science and cultural studies: how is the 'state' produced as a static space and neutral container of a homogeneous national identity? Shapiro explores this question through vivid readings of diverse texts, ranging from American social science, to literature, to landscape painting, and to film. With his incisive account of how landscape painting and cartography have worked together to foster the fiction of impartial state authority, Shapiro demonstrates what an interdisciplinary scholar can bring to understanding the modern nation-state." -- Lisa Disch, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
"With pan-disciplinary erudition, Michael Shapiro rethinks the archive of international relations through the arts, finding in esthetic narrative and form techniques for doing and undoing prescribed national oneness. From jazz to musicals to westerns to landscape paintings, he draws a different political world together by means of public attention to artistic practices that both form the nation and open us to counter-formations. Along the way he provides a deft remapping of political theory through cultural governance." -- Randy Martin, Professor of Art and Public Policy at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, and author of Financialization of Daily Life
"Methods and Nations resists the pitfall of much postcolonial literature that romanticizes the non-West as the answer to modernity’s contradictions; it encourages us to speak truth to power whenever and wherever we encounter it. Shapiro’s Methods and Nations is a tour de force that explodes our understandings of international relations and political science in very productive ways. I suspect that we will be reading and re-reading it for some time as a provocation for both research projects and political activism." William A. Callahan, Millennium, Volume 35.2, pp 464-466
Michael Shapiro is Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii.