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Reflections on the State, Violence, and the Domination and Production of Space: Lessons from Honduras

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Abstract

Contemporary political geography theory has underlined the important role of the state as a producer of space. In the attempt to monopolize the means of production, the state ‘dominates’ space through its institutions and apparatus, imposing social relations and creating a social space (Lefebvre 2003). A central point that stands out theoretically in state spatiality is the control of violence. Dominating space involves the active use of violence (physical or symbolic) in order to create social space. The state uses violence to monopolize the modes of production within a given space (usually national territory) and to impose and be recognized as a legitimate authority. The axiomatic definition of the modern state by Weber –the state claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory- presupposes that the monopoly of the use of violence is a condition of state spatiality. Some Latin American states (e.g. Colombia, Central American countries) question the state-space-violence axiom. The persistence of violence is generally understood from the Weberian state notion. However, state spatiality, that is, the territorial strategies of the state to dominate and produce space, does not necessarily lead to the monopolization of the use of violence. In some cases, the territorial strategies of the state can lead to the production –not control- of social spaces of violence. Drawing on the case of Honduras, this paper addresses questions regarding the state’s role as a producer, instead of regulator or controller, of spaces of violence.