Dialectical Materialism

Marx’s method in human geography?

  • Ipsita Chatterjee Department of Geography and the Environment, University of North Texas
  • Waquar Ahmed Department of Geography and the Environment, University of North Texas
Keywords: Materialism, human geography, methodology, dialectics, praxis, radical geography


Dialectical materialism, we argue is a philosophical praxis that guided Marx’s critique of capitalist political economy. In this article, we have attempted a self-critique of human geography by explicating that dialectical materialism has been largely used as a metaphor within the discipline. The article has been inspired by the over-whelming use of the terms ‘dialectics’ and ‘dialectical’ in human geography. The purpose has been to lay down some of the basic tenets of dialectical materialism in Marx’s work, and then lay down some human geography research that engages with dialectical materialism. We believe that philosophical introspection on methodology, particularly within the Marxist circles, is scarce. We argue that to develop a truly dialectical materialist human geography we must push dialectal materialism from metaphor to methodology. We also think that methodology and philosophy are inseparably tied and therefore, choice of research methodology is a reflector of the researcher’s philosophy about reality and hence research praxis should be an important matter of discussion and introspection.

Author Biographies

Ipsita Chatterjee, Department of Geography and the Environment, University of North Texas
Ipsita Chatterjee is an associate professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of North Texas
Waquar Ahmed, Department of Geography and the Environment, University of North Texas
Waquar Ahmed grew up in Kolkata, India. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of North Texas in Denton, where he has taught since 2012. Waquar holds a Ph.D. in Geography from Clark University at Worcester, Massachusetts. He also holds an M.Phil and a Master’s in Geography from the Center for the Study of Regional Development at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and a Bachelor’s in Commerce from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata.


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How to Cite
Chatterjee, Ipsita, and Waquar Ahmed. 2019. “Dialectical Materialism”. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 18 (2), 364-93. https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/1637.