Attention and the phenomenological politics of landscape

Matthew Gordon Hannah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (SciVal)


This paper argues that the inherent directedness of attention is a central and pervasive condition of politics across a wide range of social fields, though human geographers have hardly begun to address this issue. The subfield of landscape geography serves as an occasion to illustrate what can be gained by attending to attention. The argument begins by reflexively placing the problematic of attention within a brief genealogy of modern perception, but then suggests that the relevance of this problematic extends well beyond the period of its first clear formulation. A particular reading of key phenomenological works brings the political dimension of directed attention more sharply into focus, and sets the stage for a consideration of how this dimension deepens critical analyses of capitalism and spectacle from Benjamin, Debord, Rancière and others. The final section of the paper stages an imaginary trip through the corporate agricultural landscapes of California, in order to illustrate how phenomenologically oriented and Marxist-inspired landscape analyses might be brought into fruitful dialogue through a focus upon attentional dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-250
Number of pages16
JournalGeografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography
Issue number3
Early online date28 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • attention
  • capitalism
  • landscape
  • phenomenology
  • spectacle


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