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How Space got its groove back: Geography and Poststructuralism Deborah Thien University of Edinburgh

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1 How Space got its groove back: Geography and Poststructuralism Deborah Thien University of Edinburgh

2 SPACE? Doreen Massey (1992: 66) argues that a discussion about what “space” is “never surfaces [within geography] because everyone assumes we already know what the term means”. Doreen Massey (1992: 66) argues that a discussion about what “space” is “never surfaces [within geography] because everyone assumes we already know what the term means”.

3 Lecture Outline Review of three taken for granted understandings of space Review of three taken for granted understandings of space Introduction to poststructuralism Introduction to poststructuralism Discussion of three ways in which geographers have made use of poststructuralism to reformulate notions of space Discussion of three ways in which geographers have made use of poststructuralism to reformulate notions of space

4 Space: 3 dominant dualistic understandings 1. Timeless space 2. Meaningless space 3. Empty space

5 Timeless Space Space versus time Space versus time

6 Meaningless space Space versus place Space versus place Yi Fu Tuan (1974) Topophilia Edward Relph (1776) Place and placelessness Mark Augé (1995) Non- places

7 Empty Space Absolute versus relative space Absolute versus relative space

8 Criticisms (Timeless) Space is static (Timeless) Space is static (Meaningless) Space is divorced from human meaning and human life (Meaningless) Space is divorced from human meaning and human life (Empty) Space can be contained (Empty) Space can be contained

9 Poststructuralism Some important aspects: Some important aspects: Not identical to postmodernism Not identical to postmodernism A reaction against structuralism A reaction against structuralism Emphasis on fluidity Emphasis on fluidity Emphasis on subjectivity Emphasis on subjectivity Emphasis on relationality Emphasis on relationality

10 Not identical to postmodernism, but related “The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch of simultaneity… of juxtaposition … of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed. We are at a moment … when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein” (Foucault 1986). “The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch of simultaneity… of juxtaposition … of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed. We are at a moment … when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein” (Foucault 1986).

11 A Reaction against Structuralism and Emphasis on Fluidity A movement away from ‘fixing’ and ‘bounding’ identities and places A movement away from ‘fixing’ and ‘bounding’ identities and places Deconstruction: identifying differences in meanings Deconstruction: identifying differences in meanings A challenge to the dualistic understandings of space A challenge to the dualistic understandings of space An insistence on the fluidity and dynamism of identities (subjectivities) and socio-spatial relations An insistence on the fluidity and dynamism of identities (subjectivities) and socio-spatial relations

12 Subjectivity Subjectivity: being and becoming a subject Subjectivity: being and becoming a subject "Subjectivities are not abstract entities; they are always conducted in situ" (Probyn 2003: 293). "Subjectivities are not abstract entities; they are always conducted in situ" (Probyn 2003: 293).

13 Space as relational Instead … of thinking of places as areas with boundaries around, they can be imagined as articulated movements in networks of social relations and understandings, but where a large proportion of those relations, experiences and understandings are constructed on a far larger scale than what we happen to define for that moment as the place itself, whether that be a street, or a region or even a continent (Massey 1997: 322).

14 Poststructural reformulations of Space Paradoxical space Paradoxical space Geographies of subjection Geographies of subjection Emotional geographies Emotional geographies

15 Paradoxical Space Moves away from “knowable” space to challenge the “transparent space” of “social-scientific masculinity” (G. Rose, 1993: 40) Moves away from “knowable” space to challenge the “transparent space” of “social-scientific masculinity” (G. Rose, 1993: 40) Space “is practised, a matrix of play, dynamic and iterative, its forms and shapes produced through the citational performance of self-other relations. Which is not to say that space is infinitely plastic. Certain forms of space tend to recur, their repetition a sign of power”. (Rose 1996: 59) Space “is practised, a matrix of play, dynamic and iterative, its forms and shapes produced through the citational performance of self-other relations. Which is not to say that space is infinitely plastic. Certain forms of space tend to recur, their repetition a sign of power”. (Rose 1996: 59)

16 Geographies of subjection The End of Capitalism (as we knew it) (1996) J.K. Gibson- Graham The End of Capitalism (as we knew it) (1996) J.K. Gibson- Graham Julie Graham and Katherine Gibson. Julie Graham and Katherine Gibson. “If capitalism/man can be understood as multiple and specific; if it is not a unity but a heterogeneity, not a sameness but a difference; if it is always becoming what it is not; if it incorporates difference within its decentered being; then noncapitalism/woman is released from its singular and subordinate status” (Gibson-Graham 1996: 44). “If capitalism/man can be understood as multiple and specific; if it is not a unity but a heterogeneity, not a sameness but a difference; if it is always becoming what it is not; if it incorporates difference within its decentered being; then noncapitalism/woman is released from its singular and subordinate status” (Gibson-Graham 1996: 44).

17 Emotional Geographies 'acknowledges the emotions "as ways of knowing, being and doing in the broadest sense; and using this to take geographical knowledges...beyond their more usual visual, textual and linguistic domains" (Anderson and Smith 2001: 8). 'acknowledges the emotions "as ways of knowing, being and doing in the broadest sense; and using this to take geographical knowledges...beyond their more usual visual, textual and linguistic domains" (Anderson and Smith 2001: 8).

18 Geography transformed From “maps and chaps” to “the sexiest academic subject of them all” (Terry Eagleton 1997).

19 How Space got its groove back: Geography and Poststructuralism Deborah Thien University of Edinburgh


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