This article inspects a set of paradoxes that appeared in an investigation of contemporary industrial craft in the last remaining factory making machine lace in the United Kingdom. Its focus on a single site, set against a now global industry, means it can build on work in cultural and economic geography to understand this setting as a heterogeneous space, with links to a range of material and immaterial lineages, practices and networks. Ethnographic fieldwork on the factory floor at Cluny Lace threw up three paradoxes inherent in the firm’s continued survival in a context of industrial decline. The first of these paradoxes is the re-concentration of material and immaterial resources in the factory both despite and as a result of the global restructuring of the textile industry. The second is the embodiment of knowledge, and therefore craft skill, both within persons and distributed through the worker’s material environments. Third, is the recognition that the skilled practice the workers carry is not uniform but is multiple, resulting from an unequal distribution of opportunities within the lace industry and different versions of practice that result from the re-concentration of human capital in the factory. This article demonstrates that skill is not uncontested, but is power-ridden and value-laden, and transcends scale. It shows that knowledge and skill are not bound within an individual but are distributed among social actors, material objects and locales, where an attention to each is necessary for understanding the spaces of skilled practices and the ongoing survival of contemporary industrial craft production.
The collective ‘Las Patronas’ is one of Mexico’s most famous and most decorated activist groups. For the past 20 years, they have given food, water, and clothing to migrants on moving freight trains, without reciprocation. This article considers the centrality of the kitchen and of kitchenspace to the group’s project, especially as part of their strategy for becoming and remaining ‘public’. In Mexico, ‘the kitchen’ may be two different kitchens and two types of kitchenspace, one for the everyday, the other for the singular and special. The ceremonial cocina de humo figures prominently in the Patronas’ day-to-day lives as well as media representations. It legitimates their public place and enacts a ritual importance to their provisioning. In tracing the importance of kitchenspace, how the Patronas’ project becomes translated in media accounts such as the documentary De Nadie and the television show Tiempo de Héroes, and how the Patronas perform maternal domesticity to take up a form of authority, this article argues that the Patronas spatially perform publicness and domesticity non-exclusively. The Patronas’ strategy produces a spatially expansive, rather than exclusive, domesticity, and in so doing, the group explodes the domestic–public binary.
Founded in 1875, Maison Lemarié is one of the last remaining plumassiers (feather-makers) anywhere in the world. In highly concentrated and minutely detailed work, the artisans at Lemarié painstakingly treat, dye and apply fragile feathers to haute couture garments. Mindful of preserving these rarefied skills, Chanel (a global fashion empire) purchased the workshop in 1997 as part of ‘Paraffection’. Paraffection, which roughly translates to ‘for the love of it’, is a Chanel subsidiary company established to preserve and promote the heritage, craft and manufacturing skills of highly specialized fashion ateliers. By enacting a visit to Maison Lemarié, this article demonstrates how its heritage and skills are embodied not only in the artisans working there but also in the feathered remains used and housed in the workshop. Unravelling the stories held in human and avian bodies, we suggest, enables a series of broader geographical reflections on skill, gender and Paraffection.
The research encounter can be understood as an interaction between an individuated researcher positioned inside or outside a community or culture, a more fluid researcher testing and sometimes crossing the permeable boundaries of a shifting community, or a brief, fragile entanglement of dynamic trajectories. Within this last, relational approach, previous work identifies the agency of multiple past and present human social relationships in the co-construction of the research story, however, there has been limited reflection on (bio)physical, geographical, artefactual and other more-than-human entanglements. In this article, I use a creative, non-fiction approach to describe the processes, and challenges, involved in developing a dynamic, relational understanding of research encounters through an exploration of how (bio)physical, geographical, artefactual and other presences interact with ghostly geographies, histories and imaginaries in persons and places to influence the generation and analysis of research data.
This article illustrates how the main direction of water flow along the Kemi River has entered into the understanding of space in central Finnish Lapland, evident in expressions used for orientation, as well as in place and family names. The article demonstrates how fluvial space-making resonates with the riverbank inhabitants’ engagement with and stories about the river’s flows, especially in fishing, travel and transport. It also shows how a north–south imaginary corresponds with fluvial space on the Kemi. I propose the term ‘fluvitory’ to shift attention from territory to water flows in understanding space-making and argue that moving water must be acknowledged as an active participant in the stories that make space.
A group of women in the North East of England; women getting on and getting by amidst austerity. But what does austerity become for these women? How does it surface and register in their everyday lives through a series of fragmented encounters? Together, we developed a fictional play to explore how austerity acted in the midst of other things. Effects ranged from the un-dramatic to the intense – from an empty flowerbed at the end of the street to service closure and a loss of support. How then to ‘evoke’ austerity in this article and through the narrative form of a play? Does austerity become atmospheric like smog – something cold and wet settled over the place? Like a coercive character making demands she cannot meet? Or a particular pattern of relations between event and effect: a plot that falls apart? Our attempts at dramatisation revealed austerity’s fracturing and dissonance. Austerity sapped women’s energy to flourish through existing attachments to one another, to family life and to other forms of unpaid care; it made promises it couldn’t keep; it disorientated. As austerity differently met and co-constituted the lives of women, it disrupted opportunity for collective experience so that even austerity was not commonly encountered. In that context, I work through the play and the process in its development to explore what we held together and what continued to fall apart. Story then works hard in this article. It becomes a promise of momentum towards resolution, an affective mechanism that organises lives in the chaos after financial crisis, a longed-for form for a coproduced play and a theory that might make some sense of why anti-austerity imaginaries were not coherently attached to at least by women in this process.
Fictional vignettes are narrative texts that academic researchers may invent in order to illustrate arguments or to present their research outcomes; they are stories or situations that do not strictly report factual realities observed by the author, but that, in any case, implement the heuristics for the arguments that the author wants to raise. Although there are several works in social sciences taking advantage of fictional narratives, geographers have started mobilising invented stories in their writings mostly recently, provided that a variety of creative methodologies had been introduced. The aim of this article is to present fictional vignettes as an integrative research method and writing technique, while discussing potential opportunities and limits relating to their use in geographical research, particularly within the recent rise of various ‘creative methodologies’ in cultural geographies.
This article considers the ideal of living simply, critically exploring the practical realisation that achieving simplicity in life is a complex and skill-laden business. Particular, localised versions of living simply are subject to consideration, centring on the lived experience of dwelling as exhibited in huts and bothies, a historic feature of contemporary rural landscapes in Scotland. The article considers the kinds of skilled practices associated with these built forms, and the embodied expertise understood by users and owners as emerging from time spent in simplified structures where modern conveniences do not come as standard. As such, it seeks to place skill within the 21st century but also question where skill is located physically, morally and imaginatively. In doing so, this discussion queries why a situated version of skill needs to be cast as personalised and place-based and subsequently introduces the adapted concept of a ‘skillscape’ after Ingold (2000).
To transgress is ‘to do something that is not allowed’; in a human-constructed world, animals, especially those seen as ‘incompanionate’, are often deemed to be doing something not allowed. We explore the ethical dilemmas of ‘transgression’ in the context of critical reflection on an instructive example of dingo–human relations on Fraser Island, Australia, which has incited ongoing debate from diverse publics about the killing of ‘problem’ dingoes. We outline the historical and ethical complexity of such relations and suggest that human–nonhuman encounters, direct or indirect, have the potential to produce new, less anthropocentric topologies in which transgression is reconstructed, and humans and animals can share space more equitably. The kind of knowledge and ethical re-positioning beginning to emerge in dingo–human relations suggests transgression itself as a metaphor for its further re-imagining: a disruption of spatial, emotional and ethical boundaries to shape more responsive, respectful and less anthropocentric topologies.
Museums have recently gained attention from cultural geographers as important sites of cultural production and reproduction. Within this growing field of ‘museum geographies’, we focus on how discourses are arranged in the three-dimensional spaces of galleries and exhibits. We argue that the spatial arrangement of text, media, and artifacts shape narrative storylines and suggest sequences, connections, progressions, and pathways within and between exhibits. In doing so, the spatial arrangement of these museum ‘assemblages’ is tied to the meaning of the underlying discourse. Looking at discourse in three dimensions offers a way for cultural geographers to contribute to an interdisciplinary study of museums, as well as to other modes of discourse where the spatial form of the text contributes to its meaning. We explore this methodology through a study of the History Colorado Center, a recently opened museum in Denver, CO. The center’s exhibits, designed to confront critical histories of the state and the American West, are designed as immersive multimedia reconstructions of Colorado sites and stories, and include iconic regional imagery as well as more dissonant episodes of Colorado’s past. Through an analysis of these exhibits, we highlight how the connections made across museum spaces can enhance or detract from intended exhibit themes. In the History Colorado Center, these spatial arrangements both contribute to and detract from the museum’s presentation of a critically nuanced state history. However, we argue, the spatial arrangements of discourse merit further attention, for museum geographies as well as across other media.
This article, based on primary sources, addresses the early anarchist ethnography of Élie Reclus (brother of the more famous French geographer Élisée Reclus), placing it in the context of anarchist geographers’ elaboration of the theory of mutual aid, as well as in the construction of a scientific discourse opposed to racism, colonialism and Eurocentrism recently addressed by international literature on this group. Drawing on the double critical frame of present-day anarchist anthropologies and cultural geographies addressing the debates on otherness, postcolonialism and differences, this article analyses an early but radical attempt to build a scientific discourse on empathy and understanding of different cultural standpoints in the political context of an explicit denunciation of colonial crimes by all nations of European culture, as well as scientists’ complicity therein. I argue that European science at the time of imperialism and evolutionism was not a homogeneous field but a battlefield where heterodox and nonconformist thinkers tried to develop different discourses in order to build cultures of solidarity linked to a consistent political action.
This short photographic essay emerges from the recognition that identity, landscapes and heritage landscapes in particular are rarely configured and conceptualised wholly linguistically. An affective and emotional charge can involve visual and tactile metaphors and mnemonics. This essay therefore attempts to capture aspects of this visuality and material mnemonics while recognising the constraints imposed by the written word and the need to ask our interviewees to articulate the ‘material thing’ which most spoke to them of their ‘croft’. The heritage landscape that is the focus of this article is that of crofting agriculture in the Scottish Highlands. What emerges between the word and the image is a strong sense of inheritance from the past validated by and made meaningful by work practices and deriving from a very particular land, task and seascape. Together, this constitutes a heritage from below and a sense of localised identity.
According to Lefebvre, space is not an absolute given, an empty and presumed starting point, but space is produced through human action. Furthermore, he contends, there is a material basis to the production of space – the ‘practical and fleshy body’. The body must be conceived as both active in the production of space and produced by space, and thereby subject to the determinants of that space. This article demonstrates the crucial role of the body in Lefebvre’s trialectic as it interrogates the embodied mobile practice of rock climbing, specifically sport climbing. First, it begins with an examination of the role of climbing bodies in the production of climbing space; put into practice by the perceived space of the rock, bodies shape and are shaped by this interaction. Second, it investigates the mechanisms that continue the production of climbing space off the rock face, as climbers communicate with practice-specific gestures and jargon. Third, it approaches climbing landscapes as texts, focusing on the production of representations of space as routes are inscribed on rock faces, transcribed into guidebooks and websites, and circulated among climbing media. Finally, considering landscape as a way of seeing forces the investigation to return, full-circle, to situate the ways bodies enact landscapes in relation to textual representations of space. As such, this article explores the relationality of individual climbing bodies, rock climbing communities, and climbing media in the (re)production of climbing space to demonstrate the complementarity of landscape–body and landscape-as-text perspectives in the social production of space.
This article examines the affective capacities of sound and its role in the on-going production of social spaces. More specifically, the article seeks to understand the situated nature of sound’s affectivity within particular social-political-material contexts or circumstances. This is developed through a discussion of an empirical case study related to the history of street music: the ‘street music debates’ of Victorian London. The interrelation here of the sounds street musicians made, the broader urban soundscape of the time, who played street music and who it was that found themselves listening to this music demonstrate clearly the situated affective capacities of street music. From this, the article advocates an understanding of the role of sound in the on-going production of social spaces based upon a reciprocal mediation between ‘macropolitical’ matters related to identity and other social formations and the ‘micropolitics’ of the affects that such sound and music bring to bear for those exposed to it.
The purpose of this article is to put forward the case for a magically realist human geography, drawing on geographical research into the lives and lifeworlds of people with long-term and disabling mental health difficulties. In the article, I move between extracts from my own ethnographic research with mental health service users and survivors and the equally unusual stories of the literary genre, magical realism, in which I find a framework for addressing what I understand as a narrative paucity in much of mainstream research writing about mental distress. The article reflects upon the strange and sometimes magical qualities of illness and recovery in the context of individuals living with severe and enduring mental health problems and how traditional constructions of ‘evidence’ variously exclude or overlook such experiences. The contributions of the article are both to explore how ‘magic’ might encapsulate certain aspects of living with mental distress and – developing ongoing discussions in the sub-discipline around geographies of enchantment, magic and spirituality – to consider how a magical realist framework for geographical research might do justice to the rich, marvellous and irreducible experiences of everyday life, which are often excluded from conventional evidence bases.
As a member of Venezuela’s first national society of cave exploration and science (speleology), Ramón Alberto Hernández (1926–2009) participated in the exploration and survey of Venezuela’s famous Guácharo Cave in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Despite his key contributions to the knowledge of this cave and many others in the country, his contributions have received little attention. With an ethnographic account of his last visit to Guácharo Cave in 2008 as focus, this article offers a glimpse into Venezuela’s geographies of science at an important historical moment in the relation among individuals, the nation, science, and modernity. It does so from Hernández’s vantage point, as he yearns to reach a particular point inside of the cavern, a point where his life and the lives of other cave explorers who overshadowed his speleological contributions, the cavern, and my own history become entangled. Building on scholarship that emphasizes absence and hope as important aspects of experience, I focus on this yearning, this emergent, relational, and transformative capacity that animates and constitutes not just these entangled histories and identities but also beings and the cave itself. In the process, I illustrate the ways scientific knowledge and national modernity are co-produced. Beyond Hernández, beyond caves, this exploration reminds us of the need to (1) examine the ways affective attachments are formed in/with extraordinary places and (2) widen our understanding of materiality and presence to encompass absence. Finally, this work illustrates the centrality of yearnings in fieldwork and writing.
This article responds to the call for a deeper theoretical and methodological exchange between the disciplines involved in geohumanities research and proposes comic books as an environment for interdisciplinary, geo/cartographical and literary critical research practice. The analysis considers the emerging field of ‘comic book geographies’ and suggests a further opening to ‘comic book cartographies’. Hence, by referring to the ‘spatiocentred’ approaches emerging in literary theory and criticism, I propose a ‘geocritical’ and ‘cartocentred’ reading of comics to explore the ‘cartographies of the comic book’. I individuate the peculiar map-like features of comics’ spatial grammar to interpret the comic book as both a cartographer and a map. Moreover, taking into account the recent shift in cartographic theory towards an ‘emergent cartography’, I propose an ‘ontogenetic’ understanding of comics as maps. Through both their representational and non-representational map-like features, comics are intended ‘as always mappings’, providing the author/reader with a truly mapping experience. The analysis of the exemplary case study of City of Glass, the graphic novel transposition of Auster’s novel by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli, counts as a first attempt to propose a ‘cartocentred’ reading of the cartographies inserted within and emerging from a comic book. This article suggests that a ‘cartocritical’ reading of comics could provide comic studies, cultural geography and literary theory with new insights, as well as cartographic theory with an unexplored laboratory to keep on ‘rethinking maps’ from an ‘emergent’ perspective.
Geographical enquiries of the monster and the monstrous have increased in recent years. Through the accounting of a particular monster that emerged in the Isle of Man in the 1930s, I seek to contribute to these debates. The monster detailed in this article underscores the argument that the power of the monster lies in both their proximity to familiar spatial and cultural codings and their distance in the unfamiliarity they perform. However, I argue that the geographical accounts of the monster must focus their attention not only on their ambiguous status, but how they are constituted through mobility and movement. It is the constant itinerancy in-between and in-the-between wherein the monster finds its disruption and potential. Furthermore, in exploring monstrous modes of mobility, I argue the monster is best understood as an itinerant crossing that is incessantly and continually emergent. I finish by reminding those interested in monstrous geographies that while these strange beings may act as sources of hope and potentiality, geographers must not lose sight of how the monster still has the capacity to warn and to bite.
Ostensibly contemporary art biennials seek to engage with the places that host them, yet frequently they are viewed critically as elitist ‘art world’ events that are disconnected from their localities. The aim of this article is to establish how public art works in a given context, both as part of a format prescribed by the art event and in its potential to intersect with the intricate, contingent and varied constellation of the urban location in question. It addresses this central tension by examining the case of Folkestone, a town on the south Kent coast in the United Kingdom that once enjoyed a thriving identity as both seaside resort and gateway to Europe. From the 1960s onwards, a gradual decline set in with the advent of mass global travel, culminating in the deathblow that was dealt by the nearby Eurotunnel’s inauguration towards century’s end, which signalled the end of the town’s ferry link to the continental mainland. A concerted attempt has been underway for a decade now to revitalise the town using the arts, creative industries and education as the drivers of regeneration. One of the main initiatives in this endeavour was the introduction in 2008 of the Folkestone Triennial, a 3-month summer event in which high-profile international artists were commissioned to produce sited artworks for the town, turning it into a form of urban gallery. With successive Triennials occurring in 2011 and 2014, and several works from all three being retained as permanent acquisitions, this article takes stock of the impact of these artistic engagements with the town, showing how, as an ensemble, they interact with one another and asking whether they have the capacity to contribute to a reconstituted identity for Folkestone in an integrated and lasting way.
This article explores the relationship between environmental crisis, narcissism and the work of grief. In the first section, we provide an overview of the way narcissism has re-emerged in recent scholarship within cultural geography and environmental psychology. Developing and in part challenging the normative focus on selfish, self-destructive consumption that we identify as a major strand in the literature, we draw out themes of daunting loss. In the second section, these themes and processes are explicitly framed in terms of grief and connected to recent conceptualisations of the ‘Anthropocene’. We argue that narcissistic responses can be usefully reframed in terms of a variety of grief responses. Hence, we address the work of grief as multifaceted and multi-directional – encompassing bewilderment, denial and also creative re-imaginings provoked by the experience of loss. This point is further developed in the third section using an example from an advocate of ‘re-wilding’.
This article deals with the becoming of place in relation to tourism. The agency of non-human actors, such as earthly substances or matters underlying any given destination, has rarely been addressed empirically. Our argument is based on the view that a place is an entanglement of ever-moving substances. Hence, our objective is to trace how materialities of cultural landscape contribute to the continuous production of places through tourist encounters. By approaching destination development from the angle of relational materialism, the article aims at providing insights into the formation of tourism places, describing it as ‘poetics of making’. The article provides an account of the creation of the Strandir region, a sparsely populated coastal area in the north-west of Iceland, as a tourist destination. We will focus on the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, established in 2000, which has played a central role in framing the area as a tourism destination. The Museum brings together, and re-awakens, the period of witchcraft in the 17th century during which Strandir was one of the most notorious regions in Iceland for witch-hunts and burning. We will illustrate how magic, understood as a blank figure narrating human encounters with earthly substances, affects the ordering of Strandir both as a place and as a tourism destination. The power of the blank figure of magic rests in its ability to overturn stable orders or mobilise new or latent connections. Importantly, it also rests on personal narratives with the support of imagination, emotions and play. The Museum has been instrumental in creating and enhancing the image of the region as a place of magic, emphasising how culture and nature, as conventionally defined, mesh through human and non-human practices in the continuous forming of Strandir.
This article reconsiders the nature of art and geopolitics and their interrelations via a discussion of The Great Game, an artwork by War Boutique dealing with successive British military interventions in Afghanistan. As we discuss, The Great Game is richly suggestive in terms of the earthly materials and forces at work in geopolitics, or geopower. The main goal of our discussion, however, is to show how pursuing such concerns leads us back towards a consideration of the anthropic and thus beyond geopower. We argue that framing art and geopolitics in terms of the earthly, the affective and the inhuman is suggestive but underplays much of what art is otherwise taken to be, sometimes even within accounts framed in earthly terms. To develop this argument, we first provide an extended discussion of the The Great Game, in which we consider its entanglement of earthly and anthropic dimensions of geopolitics. We then bring this discussion to bear on work that rethinks geopolitics and art through geopower to highlight the continuing need to contend with the anthropic. Third, we discuss how our understanding of art and geopolitics is enhanced by reflection on what makes artistic engagements with geopolitics artistic, considering how The Great Game has moved through a series of artworlds. In conclusion, we underscore the extent to which art is suggestive as an onto-epistemological form of inquiry into geopolitics as well as an aesthetic–political practice with regard to it and reflect on some of the wider stakes of the discussion.
Engaging the interest of Western citizens in the complex food connections that shape theirs’ and others’ personal wellbeing around issues such as food security and access is challenging. This article is critical of the food marketplace as the site for informing consumer behaviour and argues instead for arts-based participatory activities to support the performance of ecological citizens in non-commercial spaces. Following the ongoing methodological and conceptual fascination with performance, matter and practice in cultural food studies, we outline what the ecological citizen, formed through food’s agentive potential, does and could do. This is an ecological citizen, defined not in its traditional relation to the state but rather to the world of humans and non-humans whose lives are materially interconnected through nourishment. The article draws on the theories of Berlant, Latour, Bennett and Massumi. Our methodology is a collaborative arts-led research project that explored and juxtaposed diverse food practices with artist Paul Hurley, researchers, community partners, volunteers and participants in Bristol, UK. It centred on a 10-day exhibition where visitors were exposed to a series of interactive explorations with and about food. Our experience leads us to outline two steps for enacting ecological citizenship. The first step is to facilitate sensory experiences that enable the agential qualities of foodstuffs to shape knowledge making. The second is to create a space where people can perform, or relate differently, in unusual manners to food. Through participating in the project and visiting the exhibition, people were invited to respond not only as ‘ethical consumers’ but also as ‘ecological citizens’. This participatory approach to research can contribute to understandings of human-world entanglements.
Cities today are experiencing constant, significant and abrupt infrastructural and spatial transformations. This is particularly evident in Metropolitan cities and more specifically, in cities in the Global South. Over the last decade, the implementation of Transantiago – a new public transport system – created greater awareness about the relevance of mobility practices in everyday life in the city. The intervention generated general unrest and particular daily challenges to Santiago’s residents requiring them to suddenly adapt, relearn and create ways of making sense of the complex situation that took place. It also generated major challenges for Transantiago implementers, who had to quickly react to the importance of everyday mobility experiences. Based on ethnographic research on mobility practices in Santiago de Chile prior and after Transantiago, this article presents the idea of mobile place-making as well as the various strategies urban travellers develop to adapt and create new ways of making sense of the city on a daily basis as it transforms. The results explore how travellers creatively find ways of learning or relearning to use new mobile spaces based on a travelling know-how which thickens the more mobility is practised, thus providing new possibilities within these places on the move.
How do you witness the development and reproduction of a craft practice? This essay explores this provocation in relation to the craft practice of taxidermy and, in so doing, aims to stitch together non-representational and historical geographic concerns within the discipline. Mobilising and developing on an Ingoldian perspective on the process of skill, the author places herself in the position of apprentice to a practising taxidermist in recognition that the position of learner is a highly instructive context in which to enquire into how present-day practice relates to a representational culture charting the development of the craft in historical ‘how-to-do’ manuals. When juxtaposing contemporary ethnographies of taxidermy practice with descriptions of practice in historical ‘how-to-do’ manuals, the author shows how past and present practice resonates rather than replicates. Overall, this article aims to introduce and develop theoretical and methodological pathways for studying and storying (historical) geographies of craft and skilled practices.
This article explores the deployment of exercises by the United Kingdom Fire and Rescue Service. Exercises stage, simulate and act out potential future emergencies and in so doing help the Fire and Rescue Service prepare for future emergencies. Specifically, exercises operate to assess and develop protocol; sets of guidelines which plan out the actions undertaken by the Fire and Rescue Service in responding to a fire. In the article I outline and assess the forms of knowledge and technologies, what I call the ‘aesthetic forces’, by which the exercise makes present and imagines future emergencies. By critically engaging with Karen Barad’s notion of post-human performativity, I argue that exercises provide a site where such forces can entangle with one another; creating a bricolage through which future emergencies are evoked sensually and representatively, ultimately making it possible to experience emergencies in the present. This understanding of exercises allows also for critical appraisal of protocol both as phenomena that are produced through the enmeshing of different aesthetic forces and as devices which premise the operation of the security apparatus on contingency.
As part of current studies focusing on geographies of education and spatiality of teaching and learning, this article addresses the didactic experiences of historical anarchist schools, which opened in several countries at the end of the 19th century. The article deals especially with the example of the Cempuis School (1880–1894) in France, which was run by the anarchist activist and teacher Paul Robin. The aim here is twofold. First, the article clarifies the function of space and spatiality in the teaching and learning practices of the anarchist schools, at least according to the available sources; second, it reconstructs the international cultural transfer, still little known, of the geographical knowledge produced by scholars like Reclus and Kropotkin in the field of educational practices. Finally, the article hopes to contribute to the understanding of spatial educational practices in current alternative, democratic and radical schools.
Calls to rethink our ethical and political responsibilities with nonhuman others abound recent work in cultural geography. Such work unpacks the more-than-human agencies reshaping and rematerialising our bodies and subjective knowledges. This article uncovers the coproduction of human knowledges and urban spaces by examining the problematic migration of the Australian White Ibis into Australian urban localities. We put forth a storied approach to human-ibis relations, capturing the multiple and situated experiences materialising our urban relations with the species. Drawing on ibis ethology, media narratives, personal and interviewee stories, we explore how ibis take part in the co-constitution of urban spaces and identities. In particular, we examine how the ibis as a pest narrative is mobilised and reproduced in public and media discourses that shape the species identity and influence modes of relating. Both the publics and our own personal intra-actions with ibis shed light on conceptions of nonhuman belonging, death and human desires for living-with. This article forwards a cosmopolitical approach to provoke a reconceptualisation of our ethical and political responsibility with urban ibis. We question the narrative of ibis-as-pest to forward ideas of living-with that provokes new modes of relating, uncomfortable for either party. Within these precarious relations, possibilities open for nonhierarchical modes of cohabitation, challenging our political and ethical responsibilities in living-with uncomfortable others.
This article undertakes a geographical investigation of the potential application of the concept of fractals to Wilson Harris’ understanding of the relationships between language and landscape. Alan Riach, briefly describing a fractal as ‘an irregular action or shape, such as a cloud or a coastline . . .’, has famously argued that Harris’ poetry and prose (his work notoriously blurs this boundary) ‘. . . is caught up by the shifting fractals of political energy on a global stage . . .’ Retracing this essentially metaphorical use of the term fractal back through its physical geography routes, the article begins by briefly exploring the complex meanings of the term as it is used to describe dynamic geomorphological processes, particularly the changing shapes of coastlines and rivers. Bringing this into relationship with Wilson Harris’ most recent work The Ghost of Memory, as well as his own commentaries on his work as a whole, the article argues that the application of the adjective ‘fractal’ specifically to landscape as it is described in Harris’ work is not purely metaphorical, but usefully describes the conditions for the relationships between language and landscape that Harris has spent a lifetime expressing. This tentative and contested geographical understanding of natural features of the environment as in this way not static but ‘in constant motion and unfinished’ can therefore form the beginning of an understanding of Harris’ critique of environmental degradation as disconnection. The article will end by briefly exploring the potential value of Harris’ work in relation to literature and spatiality.
Gentrification involves the transformation of neighbourhood social spaces in ways that remake place in line with the needs and desires of new residents and capital investors. While spatial transformations have been well documented in the gentrification literature, temporality has rarely been foregrounded, although social space is also altered by privileging new rhythms and tempos of everyday life. Using a case study of Toronto’s gentrifying Junction neighbourhood, this article explores the restructuring of everyday neighbourhood rhythms around consumption-oriented and place-making events that draw on a collage of ideas about the timespace of ‘authentic’ urban street life. I argue that the reorganization of neighbourhood social life through the creation and privileging of specific temporal landscapes functions as a means of excluding, marginalizing or rendering invisible certain community members and their needs. The inability of some to participate in the new temporalities of the neighbourhood becomes a barrier to recognition and representation, one that both hides and enables the ongoing ‘slow violence’ of gentrification.
The post-war material culture of Kinmen, a former military outpost in Taiwan, reveals a biography moving from conflict to hope for rapprochement, from matériel to militaria to souvenir. By experimenting with the concept of sensuous materialism, this article looks at touristic things from and of the battlefield past and explores how, through their materialities, things interact with people’s senses and shape their understandings of cross-strait relations. Far from being inert, these things are full of life and energy in their ability to animate the object–human relationship. Social memories are enacted through specific material affordances with the senses. Those memories are sensuous, emotional and affective as well as political and historic. Examining the making, staging and consumption of touristic things and how their commemorative materialities interact with and shape people’s consciousness of past histories, present happenings and future dreams helps us gain a more nuanced understanding of the China–Taiwan rapprochement process.
The recent trend towards practice-based routes to knowledge has raised methodological questions concerning how best to research practices. Within the geography of art, the expansion over recent decades of collaborative and practice-based approaches has raised similar questions, along with concerns regarding the appropriateness of geographers not trained in art to undertake their own artistic practice within their research. This article grapples with these questions in relation to my own geographic–artistic research, through which I sought to generate boundary understanding or ‘knowing between’ different practices. I outline my own research method, which employed both qualitative interviews and practice-based research with artists, and present two case studies to highlight particular insights gained during the practice-based research, over and above those acquired through semi-structured interviews. These case studies reveal the insubstantial and fragile nature of boundaries between practices and levels of proficiency, and raise political issues for inter-disciplinary activities, problematizing in particular the role of the qualitative interview as a stand-alone method in research into practices, and recent calls for arts-based research only to be conducted by those proficient in art.
This article writes a geographical biography of the early 20th century nature writer and poet, Edward Thomas. The reason for doing so is to question the way in which geography has dealt with the symbolic life of landscape. It arranges itself around a single day walking in the footprints of Edward Thomas, across the South Downs – a range of chalk hills in southeast England, extending from Hampshire in the west to Sussex in the east – with the Edward Thomas Fellowship – a literary society, who work to preserve the memory of the nature writer and poet, in the landscape he wrote of.
Mindfulness meditation (in the context of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) is a reflexive practice that seeks to reduce suffering in the form of depression, anxiety and stress. Through a variety of techniques, mindfulness meditation aims to cultivate awareness of the participant’s current experience (notably their thoughts and feelings), as well as an attitude of non-judgement towards this experience. Via Crossley’s (2001) account of the relation between habits and the development of a self-reflexive stance, the paper develops an understanding of agency as distributed across body, mind and context, and which is not fixed in time or space. Drawing on in-depth interviews carried out with students and teachers of mindfulness meditation, the paper analyses the role of dialogue in the practice, and situates it within the wider routines of the participant’s everyday lives.
This paper brings together comics studies and geography to consider how space operates both on and off the comics page. We integrate discussion of comics’ formal properties with a site-specific comics installation (Dave McKean’s The Rut) to show the intertwining of these spaces. Our argument is articulated through juxtaposition of the literature on space-time in comics with our case study. This montage speaks to graphic narratives’ formal properties, especially its alchemic, emergent nature. Our argument begins by introducing The Rut as an example of how space and narrative can be intertwined. Our argument tacks back to the literature, discussing the pluralization of time-space(s) throughout recent writing within human geography and how this can help us think with The Rut. We then briefly describe the way The Rut is physically laid out. Returning once again to the literature, we argue that the topological figuration of comics is mediated by readers’ practices of relation-building and narrative construction, which are in turn impacted by the irreversible nature of time. This is demonstrated for The Rut through experience of the art as well as participant observation. Finally, we highlight how actual spaces are overlaid with virtual spaces that help shape the actualized version; we illustrate this by showing how the embodied experience of The Rut’s materiality was productive of a multiplicity of experiential spaces, both actual and virtual. We close by drawing three conclusions: the first about the implications of graphic narrative’s relational ontology for how social scientists narrate socio-spatial processes; the second, a call for more empirical work examining the emergence, evolution, and dissipation of topological spaces; and the third about the political possibility of initiating new practices of ‘reading’ spaces and times to produce and access new ways of being in the world.
This article extends the current scholarly focus within the geographies of education and the geographies of children, youth and families through an original examination of the Woodcraft Folk – a British youth organization founded in 1925 that aimed to create a world built on equality, friendship and peace. This article illustrates how voluntary uniformed youth organizations had a much wider spatial remit and more complex institutional geographies than have been hitherto acknowledged, with their active involvement in the training of adults (namely parents and volunteers) as well as the education of children and young people. Drawing on archival research and a range of sources, the article explores the Woodcraft Folk’s philosophies and political activities across its first 50 years, and in doing so, makes two central academic contributions to the discipline. First, the article provides a timely focus on training and its analytical purchase for geographers as part of a growing body of work on the geographies of education. Second, the article shows how geographers can account for both children and adults’ geographies in institutional spaces, in this case through mapping out the enlivened historical geographies of voluntarism across the lifecourse. This article demonstrates the complex and often fluid relationship between formal and informal education, as well as the important connections between parenting and volunteering. Overall, the article reflects on the subsequent challenges and opportunities for researchers concerned with debates on education, youth and volunteering within geography and beyond.
For many of us, doing psychoanalytic geography demands something akin to a leap of faith. Questioning this assumption, the main purpose of this paper is to shift the terms of discussion about doing psychoanalytic geography from the realm of faith to critique. Drawing on Joan Copjec’s, Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists (1994), I argue that much of the uncertainty surrounding the research practices of psychoanalytic geography results from inadequate understandings of two fundamental and interrelated psychoanalytic principles. First, causes and effects cannot occupy the same phenomenal terrain. Second, the taking place of society involves a split between appearance, that is, its observable positive facts and relations, and being, that is, its generative principle and the mode of its institution. According to Copjec, a syncopated relation between being and appearance is not only central to Jacques Lacan’s concept of desire; it is also a neglected axiom that distinguishes psychoanalytic from historicist accounts of the spatial and temporal configurations of society. But what is desire and how can we become, to use Copjec’s phrase, ‘literate in desire’? To answer this question, I explore the empirical example of the fictional comic character Alan Partridge (played by Steve Coogan) who exemplifies the taking place of desire as a self-hindering process in terms of the illusoriness, opacity, and duplicity of language.
Drawing on ethnographic interviews with customers, this paper looks at the experience of dining at Dans le Noir?, a restaurant in London where eating is carried out in complete darkness. As an exemplary gastro-tourist site within the expanding leisure economy at which sensory alterity is sought, we argue that the transformation of the usual unreflexive habits of sensing while dining offer opportunities to encounter difference and reflect upon our culturally located ways of sensing the world. In focusing upon the altered experience of apprehending space, eating and socialising in the absence of light, we contend that this dining experience offers broader suggestions about how we might reconsider the qualities and potentialities of darkness, a condition which has been historically feared and reviled in the west.
This article provides an account of the emergence of jogging as mass physical fitness practice in America in the 1960s. It explores how jogging was configured as a physical fitness activity suitable for sedentary middle-aged men and women. Jogging developed as a counter to the ill-effects of habits entrained by the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of modern industrialized urban and suburban dwellers. The paper traces the development of jogging as a defined exercise routine at the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon. Focusing on the moment when jogging is ‘invented’ as a recognizable fitness practice tells a great deal about the origin of contemporary regimes of physical fitness for the middle-aged population and how they have evolved. It also points to the significance of understanding how the shaping of corporeal habits play into the making of (1) individual bodies, (2) common practices of corporeal care and activity, and (3) environments of physical activity.
This paper contributes to contemporary debates about the geographies of gendered fear of crime by examining the way in which a group of young women negotiate fear of crime in public space by creating affective distance between themselves and the approaching menace of fear. These distances are presented here as lacunae that young women construct in order to promote feelings of safety in public spaces. Bringing Sara Ahmed’s work on the circulation of affect and Jacques Derrida’s notion of erasure (or sous-rature) into a dialogue with each other, and building on a Heideggerian phenomenological understanding of fear as dynamic, this paper argues that constructing lacunae enables young women to undo the approach of signifiers of fear in public space, which in turn enables them to contest dominant discourses of the gendered nature of fear of crime. Such erasure also has implications for the politics of safe-keeping. This paper complicates conventional understandings of safe-keeping by highlighting how, in the pursuit of safety, erasures based on classed, raced, or gendered ‘othering’ manifest themselves and it highlights the importance, not only of attending to silences and absences used to promote feelings of safety, but also to the politics of these in the pursuit of safe-keeping.
In a darkened room on Earth, an astronaut stands amongst a collection of moon rocks slowly and deliberately performing a maintenance task. With a grab stick in one hand and gas hose in another, he/she deploys the grab stick to pick up moon rocks spraying them, one by one, with the smell of the Moon. Titled Enter at Own Risk, this performance work is the creation of artist duo Hagen Betzwieser and Sue Corke who collaborate as WE COLONISED THE MOON. In this paper I consider the way in which the sense of smell has been deployed as an aesthetic object by this art duo and in so doing, unpack the qualities of smell that have traditionally made this a problematic sense with regards to its deployment within the space of the art gallery. These are spatial and temporal qualities that have been utilized by Betzwieser and Corke not only in the design of the installation space at Liverpool’s Foundation for Art and Creative Technology but also through the bringing together of maintenance practice and smell – the durational and the ephemeral – which has implications beyond the gallery space, imbuing the work with its critical edge.
This paper draws attention to the growing role of corporate marketing in the cultural production of crisis narratives. We examine ethically branded bottled water products that encourage the purchase of bottled water as one means of solving the global water crisis. The brands make a donation to a development organization addressing water issues each time a bottle of water is purchased. Through this process consumers are encouraged to ‘save lives’ and ‘engage’ in ‘alleviating the world water crisis’ through buying one brand of bottled water over another. These brands are somewhat paradoxical because they portray the consumption of products that many consider environmentally, economically and socially harmful as an ethical practice. We undertake a discourse analysis of the marketing materials for Ethos Water (one such ethically branded water product) in order to examine how a version of the world water crisis is constituted by the brand. Using the concept of problem closure, we argue that the cultural production of the world water crisis as natural and apolitical; as dislocated from specific places and environments; and as an opportunity for ethical awakening among consumers, results in the consumption of Ethos Water being constituted as a viable solution to such a crisis.
Drawing on an ethnographic study of home-movie makers through a series of cuts between ‘clips’, this article inquires into what it is to produce videos of a companion animal, in fact, a really big dog, in and around the home. The final clip examines Richard Sennett’s misplaced critique of Hannah Ardent’s discussion of animal laborens and homo faber. Arendt’s two figures of human work are related to the production and purpose of home-movies of pets. The other series of clips provide a description of how an amateur editing technique is put to use and the modest aesthetic at work in doing so. The home-movie itself is examined through its site of production and the idea of craft (so important to both Sennett and Arendt), only gradually bringing the figure of the animal into focus. The article’s form plays off the disjunctures that we find across edit points in home-movies by having four distinct sections that do not correspond with the flow of conventional journal articles.
The paper contributes new ways of thinking about and responding to interview talk in the context of recent scholarship on interviewing, orality and witnessing. We proceed by paying attention to specific examples of interview talk on the experience of absence via the collecting of narratives from families of missing people. We highlight how ambiguous emotions are bound up with broader ways of recognizing such talk, largely exercised here as reflections on what is involved in witnessing those who are missing in communications with police. Tensions that may be produced by official ways of regarding and responding to family character witness of the missing are discussed in the context of two case studies. In response to these tensions, we offer suggestions for finding different spaces through which to value such ‘witness talk’ by families, particularly via ideas from grief scholarship. The paper concludes by briefly reflecting on how interviewing encounters might produce versions of praxis in which the content of talk is not just, and simply, ‘apprehended’ as academic evidence.
Stories told of the excursions of things are inflected by the properties of those things and by their capacities to move and be moved in different ways. Such stories can also be infused with a sense of the processes and relations from and within which these things – as apparently discrete presences – emerge. Moving in the spacetimes between these ontological and narrative imperatives, this paper tells stories of the excursions of atmospheric things as shaped forms that proposition us as discrete presences while also drawing attention to the clouds of affective and material relations in which they are generatively immersed. These episodic stories turn around the promise of the balloon as an only ever partially dirigible narrative device: a device through which to foreground what, following Michel Serres, we might call the ‘circumstantial’ qualities of atmospheric things.
The paper concerns the reading of humour, literary imaginativeness, social structures, local identities, as well as their emancipation, and their interconnected nature. Humour is approached here as a tool through which the writer as well as the reader can self-consciously rise above the social and cultural discourses within which the text itself is written. These themes are discussed by investigating how literary humour is used in the process of narrativizing the marginalized histories and identities of the Tornedalen (Torne Valley) region of Sweden. The specific focus is on the humour of novelist Mikael Niemi, a native of the region, and his novel Popularmusik Från Vittula. The paper examines how Niemi’s literary humour is embedded in the questions of spatiality and otherness, and how they are both constructed and contested through irony directed at the common regional stereotypes of Tornedalen, a ‘region with no identity’. The key argument here concerns how perceiving the world through humour, and humour through social criticism, are alternative manners of acknowledging, understanding and interpreting the processes on-going in space and society.
The recent renaissance within animal geography has tended to focus on the spatial orderings of animals by humans, rather than on the lived geographies and experiences of animals themselves. We suggest that one reason for this imbalance is methodological – a persistent commitment to human-centred methods somewhat at odds with the more-than-human aspirations of the sub-discipline. In this paper we review and critically assess methodological developments in three areas that we consider to be especially significant for developing animals’ geographies: (i) techniques for tracking the spatialities of animal culture; (ii) scientific and artistic engagements in inter-species communication; and (iii) geographic tools afforded by genetic analyses. In conclusion, we reflect on the promise and some of the challenges to developing these methods within (what is still largely known as) human geography.
In the context of the feverish pace in which the social sciences are grappling with the implications for a turn toward ‘big data’, I suggest a different starting point: that big data are not necessarily social science data. In this somewhat speculative provocation, I argue that we should lean more on the notion that social media are phenomena and less on the notion that social media are evidence of phenomena. In doing so, I sketch four areas of potential criticality for an emerging big data studies.
This article is an outline of a method to approach an object of analysis as generative, compositional, and immanent to ordinary ways of living and proliferating worlds. Using the case of the American road as an emergent assemblage, I trace its singular forms and the ways in which these forms register forces of all kinds. Road registers are material-symbolic composites charged with potentiality. They form links between disparate phenomena, scales, and compositional modes from literature to state thinking, structure to fantasy. I use creative non-fiction writing as a mode of critique that can follow the lines of diverging tendencies and events in which a range of elements throw together. I present a series of snapshots of the road’s bodies and rhythms, orientations, and atmospheres. Road Registers is a middle-range concept used to rethink designations such as macro and micro, big and small, official and everyday. I elaborate affect theory’s insight that structures of living have not just effects or conditions of possibility, but also capacities to affect and to be affected, or an energetics.
From August 17 to September 17, 2012, Deirdre Heddon and Misha Myers created and carried a Walking Library, made for the Sideways Arts Festival. Sideways, an art festival ‘in the open’ and ‘on the go’, aimed to connect ecology and culture through using the ‘slow ways’ or ‘slow paths’ of Flanders. The Walking Library was comprised of more than 90 books suggested as books ‘good to take for a walk’ and functioned as a mobile library for Sideways’ artists and public participants. In addition to carrying a curated stock, the Library offered a peripatetic reading and writing group. Drawing on the Library’s resources and the experience of reading, writing and walking one’s way across Belgium, Heddon and Myers consider how reading in situ affects the experience of the journey and the experience of walking; how journeying affects the experience of reading; how reading affects the experience of writing; and how a walk, as a space of knowledge production, is written and read.
Resilience is becoming a key representational concept across academic, policy and planning literatures, creating a need to explore fully how experienced forms of resilience emerge. In this article we respond to this by analyzing how locality-based resilience is made, in the example of the emergent Slow City movement in Australia. Through their activities and narratives Australian Slow City leaders expressed their relationship to the (broadly sustainability-oriented) goals of the movement’s framework in relation to the maintaining and making of local specialness and recovery. To understand this we go beyond the binarisms connoted by a concept of resistance through contestation or reterritorialization, to suggest such resilience is made through the relationality of things, narratives, flows and processes that traverse the local-global in between.
Increasing theoretical attention has recently been given to the importance of material experience to the emergence of hope. Drawing on geographies of hope and the monstrous, I explore the convergence of the hope for a better world with sites of past violence within volunteer tourism placements in Cambodia. Volunteer tourism, for which Cambodia is a popular destination, allows people to volunteer for short periods of time with development or conservation organizations. Volunteer tourists on medical and community development placements attest to a hopeful belief in contributing to the eradication of poverty through improving education and medical care. However, their hope for a better future is rarely considered in the context of the monstrous sites of remembered violence and deprivation that mark the history of the impoverished places where they volunteer. Using interviews with returned volunteer tourists and auto-ethnographic reflections on participant observation in Cambodia, I consider volunteers’ visits to memorials for Khmer Rouge atrocities and communities of poverty as sites in which to observe the becoming of hope in a better future. This article gestures towards the capacity of post-phenomenological geographies of experience within specific sites to enable a greater appreciation of how this kind of hope comes to matter. The materiality of hope can then be construed as a contestation with the monstrous; between future connection and past violence.
This paper describes and contextualizes the Situationist concept of psychogeography as a radical political strategy that can transform our experience in public space and examines three psychogeography-inspired public art experiments in New York City. These projects are designed to invoke the Situationist goal of momentarily disrupting routine and expectations in public space using the psychogeographic tactics of play, chance, dérive and détournement, as well as the similar anarchist notion of temporary autonomous zones. The paper documents the goals and outcomes of these experiments to see how brief transformations in public space can become liberating political acts.
Solar energy harnessed through photovoltaic panels powers the greatest majority of the domestic electricity needs of off-grid homes. Solar energy can be rather easily stored in batteries; however, the cost of battery banks and the need to limit draining these batteries to increase their life, means that solar-powered home dwellers need to carefully monitor their energy consumption and reduce electricity use when solar energy becomes scarce. So what happens during fall and winter months when cloudy skies and long dark days make solar energy scarce? Drawing from ethnographic research with Canadian off-grid homeowners, this paper examines the everyday ways in which off-gridders adapt to seasonal darkness. Ethnographic data show how people’s diurnal and seasonal rhythms change in accordance with available sunlight and therefore more broadly how people’s relationships with place are shaped by changing temporalities of light and darkness. Focusing in particular on the alternative domestic technologies off-gridders use to reduce wattage consumption (e.g. LED televisions, DC lights, non-use of heat-producing appliances, use of manually-operated tools) and juxtaposing their lifestyles with domestic practices of the past this paper argues that off-gridders challenge the speed, light, and power assemblages of modernity, by cultivating slower rhythms and power self-sufficiency.
Memories are not confined to those who experience them firsthand. Rather, they can be transmitted and repeated by subsequent generations as prosthetic and moral memories, not linked solely to specific geographic locations but extending to affect and inform contemporary political debates. This paper investigates how and why the 1965 flooding of the village of Capel Celyn in the Tryweryn valley, north Wales is remembered through textual analysis of Welsh literature and popular music. It also highlights the profound impact that struggles over resources can have on social, cultural and political landscapes. The flooding, arguably the most dramatic hydropolitical event in the history of the United Kingdom, created tension between the need to protect cultural identity on the one hand and on the other, the need to provide essential natural resources for industry and urban development. The memory of this event has been sustained in Wales in a number of ways. Visually, graffiti calling on the public to ‘remember Tryweryn’ has become a tangible symbol of Welsh nationalism, and a potent part of the Welsh landscape. In Welsh literature (poems and songs) the memory of Tryweryn has been expressed in terms of loss and shame and the defilement of nature. Politically, Tryweryn provided the context for the rise of Welsh nationalism and devolution and has become a regularly used symbol of a culture under threat. Crucially, the memories now influence and inform contemporary debates around precipitation, drought and any forced removal justified in the name of progress.
Throughout the 20th century the books, exhibitions, public lectures, magazines, film and television shows produced by Irish missionaries created a vivid portrayal of Africa within Ireland. Until recently, so clearly were these missionary enterprises associated with an idea of Ireland as a champion of the Global South that their history and their rich visual and material culture existed beyond critique. This paper will contest this established national narrative, through an excavation of the geographical culture of Irish Catholic missionaries and their depictions of Africa between 1900 and 1940, when many of the principal imaginaries about the continent and its peoples were lodged in the Irish consciousness. To undertake this analysis, this paper will deploy concepts of assemblage rather than colonial discourse analysis, the method that has more frequently been used to consider the geographical imaginaries associated with the visual and material culture that intersects with colonialism. This proposition is derived from the contention that in presenting a fluid but materialized vision of society, attendant to the turbulent qualities of social, spatial and non-human relationships, assemblage creates illuminating opportunities to trace how knowledges about Africa were continuously transacted through the Irish missionary enterprise – in bodies, books, the built environment and so on, as well as through the immanent qualities of the missionary network itself. Assemblage offers the potential to re-situate ‘the geographical’ within missionary activities, by recognizing their dependency upon the circulation of information, materials and personnel over a wide network and through multiple modes of encounter and knowledge making. In this way, the paper contributes to the recasting of geography’s history, though an exploration of the relationships between geographical practices and the contexts, practices and networks in which they have been situated. Equally, examination of the early 20th-century Catholic missionary enterprise offers critical insights into the complexities and dramas of Irishness in the context of Empire.
Past scholarship on the origins of Turkey’s forward capital has contributed both to insightful critical analysis of modernity, nationalism, and urbanization in the republic but also to a tradition of work that is too often quite narrow in conceptualization and shallow in historical depth. In this article, I address the promise and the shortcomings of this tradition by incorporating both views of nature and novel primary documents from the city’s early republican pasts. Focusing on problems within 1920s Ankara as depicted in both foreign and nationalist narratives, on the one hand, and perspectives from public health and other state officials, on the other hand, I engage with water as a key problem not only in its scarcity but also in its excess. This research shows that not only planning but also the attainment of public health objectives (as framed in terms of place and nature) were established unambiguously as preconditions to the project of urban – and hence national – development. Additionally, as a study on the early republican capital that utilizes unique sources, this article identifies and analyzes alternative voices, thus expanding our views of the place and period in ways that elucidate the complex dynamics of both place-making and political ecology in this still contested context.
‘Sophie’s story’ is a creative rendition of an interview narrative gathered in a research project on missing people. The paper explains why Sophie’s story was written and details the wider intention to provide new narrative resources for police officer training, families of missing people and returned missing people. We contextualize this cultural intervention with an argument about the transformative potential of writing trauma stories. It is suggested that trauma stories produce difficult and unknown affects, but ones that may provide new ways of talking about unspeakable events. Sophie’s story is thus presented as a hopeful cultural geography in process, and one that seeks to help rewrite existing social scripts about missing people.
This essay explores the temporality of Deleuzian ontology by recounting a day spent engaged in the practice of charcoal burning. Charcoal was an essential component of the iron industry, and by the late 16th century it was being consumed in vast quantities in the blast furnaces of large ironworks. The production of charcoal involves burning wood under controlled conditions to drive off water vapour and volatiles, creating a fuel that can reach the temperatures necessary to separate iron from its ore. Deleuze’s three syntheses of time offer a means of transformation of events and their relations. Taking his ideas on process, repetition for itself, and difference in itself, I seek to demonstrate that the temporality of the present exceeds the here and now. In doing so, I also seek to reveal the role of the past in the present, or the always already present nature of the past.
This essay argues that urban symbolism and architectural inheritance are crucial and undervalued components of post-colonial discourse. Drawing on the evidence of architectural change, as well as newspaper articles, personal histories, fieldwork, and related sociological research, it takes a wide view of changes to the urban environment of central Algiers after 1962. After briefly discussing the role of urbanism in the French ‘civilizing mission,’ the essay aims to analyze two opposing currents in post-colonial urbanism. First, it relays the extent to which the French built environment of Algiers was capable of encouraging patterns of life for its new inhabitants, and the degree to which that power affects memories of colonial urbanism. Second, it examines the antonymous, parallel quest to reclaim that symbolically heavy territory with icons, symbols and representations of Algerian nationalism, particularly through street names, statues, and public art, a process that both revealed the complexities of the state’s nationalism and provoked its contradictions. Despite the FLN’s best efforts, the city as palimpsest persists. The changes to – and consistencies of – the built environment of Algiers after 1962 testify to the under-appreciated importance of the city as an influential legacy of colonialism.
Geography has a long, if episodic, relationship with film and film-making. In this essay we reflect on the process of making the short film Imagining Change: Coastal Conversations during the first three months of 2012. We discuss some issues arising from the making of the film as a medium and method for showing, and showcasing different forms of arts and humanities practice – narrating, performing, picturing – in relation to environmental change.
The regeneration of Trafalgar Square was presented as a process of transforming a chaotic roundabout into a world-class square fit for a world-class city. This worldclassness revolved around enabling the square as a cultural space by altering the very materiality of the place: several human and nonhuman objects were added in order to encourage those cultural practices through which a world-class city-ness is performed. The proposal implied some exclusions too. Turning the square into a cultural place implied redefining the presence of nature within it. To be cultural the square had to be pigeon-free and achieving that goal, in turn, required some material objects being removed and some practices being proscribed. This paper examines the contested accounts of civility at play in this material remaking of Trafalgar Square and advances the wider theoretical claim that this dynamic interplay of placement and displacement of ontologically symmetrical humans and nonhumans is not blind to political imbalances. The paper suggests potential dialogues between relational, more-than-human and urban geographies and emerging political theories of the nonhuman, while contributing to a conceptualization of power in relational thinking.
We reflect upon our involvement in Do You See What I Mean?, a sitespecific work of contemporary ‘street theatre’ presented as part of Vancouver’s 2013 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. A collaboration between a geographer and professional artists, the project involved engaging audience members in a 2.5-hour blindfolded guided tour of the public and private spaces of Vancouver, Canada. The work is considered as a site staging sensual urban journeys, giving cause for wider reflection on recent experiments in geographic thought and practice.
In light of recent explorations into the interface between human agency and the agentic qualities of matter, the article revisits Michele Serres’ notion of a natural contract to explore the relationships between materiality, environmental politics and citizenship. In a break from conventional renderings of environmental citizenship, the article argues that nature enters into politics alongside human subjects, through insurgent socio-ecological assemblages. In a case study of the 2008 Ecuadorian constitution, with its organizing principle of buen vivir and provisions enshrining the rights of nature, the idea of a natural contract proves a useful heuristic device for probing the political intertwining of human and nonhuman. At the same time, it falls short in characterizing the dynamic socionatural insurgencies that transgress dominant orders and perform alternate modes of being, ultimately leading to such things as formal constitutional change. Moreover, the secular contractual language of the Ecuadorian constitution tends to efface the spiritual content of the indigenous cosmovisions that significantly inform its principles. In light of this, the second part of the analysis probes the way human actors attach meaning to their involvement in socionatural insurgence, with an emphasis on the sacred as an important and often overlooked dimension of political-ecological struggle. Taking the Latin American movement for water justice as its empirical referent, the article locates the spiritual dimension as a vital ontological and discursive bridge facilitating human actors’ embodied engagements with their ecological surroundings. In this way the sacred makes key contributions to assembling human and more-than-human elements within the insurgent ecologies of citizenship.
Throughout the Second World War camouflage was employed to conceal and counterfeit the military’s presence in diverse landscape habitats; a technology designed to wipe out revealing patterns and inscribe false forms, all in order to make of enemy reconnaissance a glass eye. It was on the plains of the North African desert that the technology proved its effectiveness for military strategy. The desert was an expansive, shifting environment, demanding a new relationship between modern militarism and knowledge of the earth’s surface. Where aerial reconnaissance could threaten to expose military desert designs, other forms of visual literacy were developed to engage with the vertical, as well as the horizontal, plane, all in order to camouflage military movements. This paper critically considers the triangulation of the technology of the aeroplane, and the camera, alongside the granular surface of sand. It explores the working practices of British desert camoufleurs, a diverse group of practitioners, including artists, scientists, filmmakers and, less expectedly, a magician, who were handpicked by the military due to their skills in visual literacy. Their innovations in camouflage form a narrative focusing on the development of desert-based design practices that subsequently arose from military engagements with this environment. The paper seeks to show both the aesthetic and the political implications of these military incursions into the desert, telling how the militarization of the desert exploited a land of mirages to deadly effect.
This paper develops a vitalist conception of habit as a means to theorize the material capacity of art-encounters to reconfigure and reinvent the subject. Drawing principally on the innovative conceptualization of habit articulated in the philosophies of Félix Ravaisson and Gilles Deleuze, where it is theorized as a much more volatile and creative force of repetition that makes change possible, I first explore how habit pushes our contemporary understandings of the subject through an attentiveness to its ontogenetic emergence from material and affective processes and ecologies, as well as its plastic susceptibility to immanent disruption. Second, and through an engagement with the bioaesthetic and micropolitical thought of Deleuze and Guattari, I argue that it is precisely on the ontogenetic terrain of plastic habits that art-encounters might be understood to intervene. I unpack this empirically through an engagement with the bioartistic practices of the Tissue Culture and Art Project (TC&A), whose ‘semi-living’ installation art, I argue, stages a disruption of pernicious contemporary habits in favour of new and creative capacities for thinking, perceiving, and relating to the nonhuman.
This is a paper about child-welfare regulations, policies, and practices as they impact Indigenous families and communities. I take as my starting point that child welfare, and geographies of Indigenous homes and families, are under-scrutinized ontologies worthy of more investigation especially by geographers interested in understanding neo settler-colonial power – and how to unsettle it. I track historical logics of state intervention into Indigenous families through to the present day, reviewing the empirics of child removals and state interventions into contemporary Indigenous families in British Columbia, Canada. Curtailing the state’s ongoing disruption of Aboriginal families and communities, I conclude, requires understanding child welfare ontologically, as historically contiguous with other colonial projects, and as premised in great part on ungrounded logics of ‘common sense’ that (re)produce Indigenous families and communities as rarified and othered geographies in constant need of intervention.
Drawing from ethnographic research on Canadian people living off-grid we describe and interpret how people without formal training in architecture or construction manage to build their own homes. Our findings show that they do so thanks to what we call regenerative life skills. Juxtaposing our argument in the context of DIY (do-it-yourself) research and discourse we argue that rather than in a solo endeavor off-grid builders engage in relational practices, becoming entangled with others, with historical traditions, with place-specific resources, and with the affordances of the materials they utilize. DIW (do-it-with) relies on the engagement of what we call regenerative life skills – drawing from relational theory and regenerative design.
This paper examines the ontological politics of an encounter between proposed energy pipelines and Indigenous peoples. The Enbridge Corporation has applied to construct a pipeline system to deliver diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to the Pacific coast of British Columbia, but the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and their member communities have asserted the authority to prevent this project from passing through their unceded territories. Studying Carrier Sekani contestation of Canadian regulatory assessment of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, we examine how the processes of Indigenous becoming exceed notions of Indigenous being that are included in the permitting process as traditional knowledge. We focus both on the performance of legal obligations to consider Aboriginal traditional knowledge and the emerging politics of Carrier Sekani resistance. Our intention is not to question the integrity of traditional knowledge that the regulatory process incorporates, but to highlight how traditional knowledge functions as an anchor for a field of governmental inquiry and action. Providing a historical and geographical context of Carrier Sekani relations with development and the state, we argue that the coding of Indigenous being as traditional works to disavow contemporary processes of Indigenous becoming that are surplus to the spatial ontology of capitalist energy development for global markets. Against efforts to sanction development on disputed territory through formal recognition of a constrained Indigeneity, Carrier Sekani people assert the sovereign authority to prevent or permit development on their lands and waterways using traditional governance systems. Broadly, this paper suggests that recognizing the ontological politics at stake in this permitting process provides a useful opening to understand continued colonial captures at work in the inclusion of traditional knowledge in environmental governance. But it also demonstrates the capacity of Indigenous resistance to these enclosures to challenge and reshape global geographies of energy, capitalism, and climate.
Arts-science collaboration is gaining increasing attention in geography and other disciplines, in part due to its ability to ‘do’ social, cultural and political work. This paper considers the work of SiteWorks, a series of projects initiated by Bundanon Trust – an Australian public company. SiteWorks involves arts practitioners, scientists, other scholars and local people creating works in response to the Bundanon site, on the Shoalhaven River, southeastern Australia. The paper draws on my experience as a SiteWorks participant, and poses two questions. What does this arts-science collaboration contribute to an understanding of the more-than-human world of this site? What are the methodological implications of the collaborative, embodied research methodology? The study finds that SiteWorks informs a politics of belonging. Understanding belonging has implications for thinking and action towards plant and animal life, and for the highly contested realms of human identity, indigeneity and migration. Unsettling fixed notions of belonging is essential for learning to live with the contingency presented by contemporary environmental change. Here I propose a ‘passing-through place’; a place not permanently dwelt in but vital nonetheless. Secondly, the study finds that collaborative, embodied research methodology reveals and challenges our practices, invites new modes of investigation, and presents new questions and insights into place and practice. Embodied methods heighten awareness of the more-than-human world, presenting opportunity for more ethical co-existence. The academy is presently witnessing increasing attention to impact and non-traditional output. Despite ongoing challenges, collaborative, embodied research practice presents one avenue for attending to these imperatives.
Over the last decade, northern Québec (Canada) has been the stage of tremendous changes regarding the active role played by Aboriginal peoples in matters of planning and territorial development. This gradual rise, if incomplete, of the Aboriginal agency greatly impacts, as we shall argue here, on the identities and territorialities of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, through new policies, legislation, treaty processes, institutions (public or private) devoted to development, territorial governance or the increasing number of cross-cultural partnerships and investments. The goal of this paper is to offer a critical portrait of the recent changes affecting the relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in northern Québec, and discuss the limits of the cross-cultural dialogue in which they are engaged. This argument is an attempt to show how development and planning are rich grounds for understanding the state and the economy as ontological. It will be illustrated through the recent emergence of the Québec government’s Plan Nord (‘Northern Plan’), an ambitious program of development, and the treaty process involving three Innu First Nations in the regions of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Côte-Nord. Conceived of as a dynamic form of cross-cultural dialogue shaped by power relations, the concept of métissage (hybridity) grounds our analysis and highlights the challenges of multicultural territorial planning. If Québec is presently engaging in a renewed cross-cultural dialogue with First Nations, the final result of this dialogue, however, remains uncertain.
In cultural geography, connections between home, identity, and multi-scalar notions of belonging are well established. Intersections between interior design and national identity are linked likewise to a broader material and symbolic politics of dwelling. Through an interview with the artist, alongside analysis of two exhibits focused on the domestic landscapes of Malaysia (‘Dalam’, 2001) and Australia (‘Inland’, 2009) – the paper explores ideas about nationalism invested in the art photography of Simryn Gill. By exploring the intimate politics inherent within the creation, curatorship, and review of her work, the home emerges as an ambiguous and incomplete referent of both nationalism and self.
This paper engages my struggles to craft geo-graphs or earth writings that also further broader political goals of decolonizing the discipline of geography. To this end, I address a body of literature roughly termed ‘posthumanism’ because it offers powerful tools to identify and critique dualist constructions of nature and culture that work to uphold Eurocentric knowledge and the colonial present. However, I am discomforted by the ways in which geographical engagements with posthumanism tend to reproduce colonial ways of knowing and being by enacting universalizing claims and, consequently, further subordinating other ontologies. Building from this discomfort, I elaborate a critique of geographical-posthumanist engagements. Taking direction from Indigenous and decolonial theorizing, the paper identifies two Eurocentric performances common in posthumanist geographies and analyzes their implications. I then conclude with some thoughts about steps to decolonize geo-graphs. To this end, I take up learnings offered by the Zapatistas. My goal is to foster geographical engagements open to conversing with and walking alongside other epistemic worlds.
This article considers what we might learn about landscape from how certain gardeners respond to death, absence and afterlife. After situating the domestic garden amid recent work on landscapes of memory and absence in geography, the article presents a circuit of the garden in four movements: passing, touching, weeding and sitting. Each draws on encounters with experienced gardeners living in British suburbs. In particular, these movements focus on: commemorabilia, including plants, which offer the possibility to materialize and anchor something of what would otherwise be lost; how absences are teased into awkward presence through conversation and reminiscence; and the importance of the ‘people’ who continue to produce the garden landscape after their death. Collectively, the practices I describe are an attempt to domesticate – that is, to coconstitute more malleable and familiar relations with – absent presences, and in so doing to seek a comfortable, even if ultimately impossible, alignment between self, past, memory and landscape. I stress that this seeking requires work: practical projects of digging, planting, weeding, of making memory and losing it again. In so doing, the article suggests that the spectral does not always arrive from the outside but is something that can be fabricated. I conclude that we should look to the practicalities of living rather than ideas of life, and to acts of landscaping rather than concepts of landscape, in seeking to ascertain the ways in which absence comes to matter.
In this paper I build on my previous case-study focused research on memorialization to develop a thesis for absence-presence evidenced in vernacular memorial artefacts, spaces and performances at a variety of scales and locations across the British Isles. I make three key arguments: i) for bringing the universally significant experience of absence through bereavement to the fore in cultural geographies of absence; ii) for moving beyond representational and phenomenological analysis of memorial artefacts and spaces to focus critical attention on the contextualized interface between the representational and more-than-representational, embodied and affective practices that surround them, for a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between the living and the absent deceased; and iii) that this interface of form and practice at a variety of vernacular memorials and locations evidences dynamic negotiations of absence-presence. I explore the ways in which the emotions, memory and materiality of absence through death is expressed and negotiated in different memorial forms and landscape settings in the British Isles. Analysis is based on a range of empirical examples drawn from contemporary practices of memorialization and remembrance, and explores how living with absence as a result of bereavement is mediated through different material forms and practices including expressions of ‘continuing bonds’. The discussion is contextualized in relation to wider dialogue on absent presence, but argues that expressions of continuing bonds with the deceased evidence a relational and dynamic absence-presence. Practices associated with absence-presence intersect with growing trends to mark private grief and remembrance of individuals in public space, through the creation of a range of informal memorials that frame a ‘Third Emotional Space’ for the bereaved. The material memorialscape is indicative of the interwoven narrative journeys in and through particular place-temporalities for the living, for whom bereavement is a confluence of emotional-spiritual-practical way-finding.
This paper examines how the changing intensities of habit alter the way that places are inhabited and experienced. Developing a virtual and distributed understanding of habit that underscores its transformative powers, the paper demonstrates how habit can be understood as an important virtual infrastructure in the way that it provides a charged, dynamic background that entrains and supports movement. Based on reflections on long-duration airline travel, the paper describes how the intensity of habit’s operation changes over the course of a journey, and is revealed through different qualities of bodily movement. Gracefulness, restlessness and clumsiness are presented as three movement transitions that demonstrate how practical competencies are fragile and contingent on milieu. Where much geographical inquiry has examined disruptions to physical infrastructures, this paper shows how the virtual infrastructures of habit are susceptible to different kinds of transformation, which changes bodily capacities for moving, sensing, perceiving and attending, and, thus, the lived experience of place.
In this essay I examine the process of making meaningful places through a consideration of the life geographies of Norman Angell and Tom Driberg, two former residents of the Blackwater marshes, Essex. The essay begins by outlining how the cultural tradition of the west has tended to present marshes as marginal locations, and marshland landscapes as problematically ambiguous, and it shows how this characterization has influenced accounts of the Blackwater marshlands. I then introduce and examine the lives of Norman Angell and Tom Driberg: the former a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a solitary man for whom Northey Island provided a retreat from a threatening world; the latter a leftist politician and journalist, an extrovert who lived a colourful life in Bradwell on Sea. While both men came to the marshes as outsiders, they ended by making for themselves meaningful life geographies in the marshland, their struggles engaging with the symbolic, imaginary, and real components of the landscape. I conclude by proposing that Angell and Driberg’s life geographies indicate that, like the marshlands, landscape might best be understood as neither necessarily solid nor liquid in identity, but as a contingent process formed by local negotiation.
This edition of cultural geographies in practice serves a dual purpose. It presents a photo-essay that depicts recent and ongoing ‘topographic’ research in London’s Borough Market, and it is an article about photography and topography as textual forms. The photo-essay examines London’s Borough Market through a series of assembled images that relates a narrative of Borough Market and demonstrates the inherent complexity of place. Through its unfolding, it seeks to variously question the ways in which text and pictures can be assembled into types of topographic (re)presentations. The article, presented as an essay, interrogates and simultaneously reclaims the practice of topography. It argues that topography is a methodological intervention into place and place-making as well as a critical spatial practice that can demonstrate place’s inherent complexity. The article further suggests that the implicit reflexivity of the essay-form through which photo-essays emerge allows for a critical spatial practice like topography to be undertaken.
In recent writings the concept of absence has been used to question the reach of phenomenological accounts of the human-world relation from a deconstructionist perspective. This article argues that absence is rooted in the corporeal embeddedness of human beings in the world that surrounds them. This is the case although absences refer to entities that are not present. Discussing the absence-presence relation, it is made clear that the simultaneity of absence and presence is not paradoxical, because the absence of presence and the presence of absence refer to different entities. Contrary to the connotation of absence with Derrida, the spectral and hauntings, absences are experienced in a wide variety of practices that are both extraordinary and mundane. A detailed investigation into the processes in which absences are experienced then shows how an experience of absence comes into being and what affects the power of the experience. The article argues that the experience of absence is stronger when it refers to practices, emotions and corporal attachments that have been deeply ingrained into those who experience the absence. Since materiality, embodiment and (the lack of) resistance play a crucial role in the actual experience of absences, the conceptualization of absence should reflect these qualities. It is precisely because absence is rooted in processual corporality that absence can unfold such disturbing power. Those who experience something as absent have to fill the void that they experience with their own emotions, they have to bridge the emptiness that threatens their established expectations and practices. Accordingly, absence is presented as a phenomenologically grounded concept that gains its epistemological and experiential quality through its connection to the corporal body, its senses and emotions, and the world around it.
This article examines the period leading up to the establishment of the Schefferville iron mine in subarctic Québec, Canada, with a focus on the years 1937–54. The beginning of iron ore mining at Schefferville was a decisive moment in the growth of the modern Québec state, opening the way for the industrial exploitation of the province’s natural resources – mineral and otherwise – in the hinterland. Relying on oral and written sources, the research emphasizes the roles and actions of Innu individuals during this phase of development conducted by exploration companies and the Iron Ore Company of Canada at the heart of their ancestral homeland. If the early mining experience at Schefferville evolved largely to the detriment of the Indigenous communities inhabiting the region, a decentring approach to ethnohistory in the context of industrial colonialism reveals that the Innu also worked to determine their own engagement with the mining world, adjusting and maintaining their practices on the land while participating in the wage labour economy.
Despite artistic practices, sites and modes of production and expression being in constant flux, and artistic production being of fragmented and temporal, often precarious status, this article emphasizes how the studio is and remains an important instrument and base of contemporary artistic performance. Based on qualitative research on contemporary visual artists’ work practices in London, this study presents accounts on how artists come to perceive but also construct the work and studio environment in which they are located; how they recognize the potential opportunities of this relation as well as how they actively react in order to practice and use such space. The artist’s studio is a space from which the alchemy of an art form cannot be completely revealed. Yet, with all its material, the studio is a space whose materialities are manifestations, documentations and traces of studio processes and visual artists’ work. The studio represents collections of clues and traces of the artists’ working lives and, for the artists, the studio is not only a space for work in progress but also for storage and creative resources. It is a space where they filter, sort, store and appropriate active actants, remnants and traces of their working lives inside the studio as well as their inspirational journeys outside. The studio is a space where objects and documents are placed as a way to mark an end to a process, but it is also a space where things originate or are reinvented – it is a space where things begin. However, in its particular set-up there is a creative limitation; there is a limiting order of the material collected that can authorize and command the future development of artistic work. There is an archival notion of the making and thinking in the modern art studio.
Sarah Whatmore has argued that ‘[t]here is an urgent need to supplement the familiar repertoire of humanist methods that rely on generating talk and text with experimental practices that amplify other sensory, bodily and affective registers and extend the company and modality of what constitutes a research subject’. But how does one do this? What kinds of research practices are useful? And more specifically, what kinds of methods can help to conjure and enact a vitalist materialism in the field? This essay offers a brief and critical account of how the author attempted to perform a vitalist materialism through fieldwork practices undertaken in 2007. Research into Caribbean agronomic responses to the EU Sugar Reform involved ‘muddy boots’, diary writing, and video documentation methods.
Participating in the thick of agronomic experiments facilitated a greater sensitivity to and awareness of the interactions and miscommunications involved between different vital agencies and video provided an evocative way of communicating more-than-human materialities. In sum, these methods were successful with regard to Whatmore’s call, but proved to be more useful as memory-prompting tools. This author found that practising vitalist fieldwork did not mean that one had to enrol fantastical new methods to reveal or get at ‘the vital’. Rather, the cultivation of a vitalist geographical imagination that was receptive and open to the liveliness of materialities and the significance of relational becomings was much more important.
This article is about the relevance of social class within emotional geography. Based on life history interviews with former metalworkers in Bavaria, it analyses their identity-related sense of place and the feelings of loss they experience when encountering their former places of work. By concentrating on the perspective of those who have worked on industrial sites, and their encounters with those sites, now transformed, this article focuses on a specific identity-related emotion experienced by working-class people, which is often underestimated. Recollections of common experiences linked to the workplace may seem haunting in the form of memories of body routines within a place ballet, or of former buildings and walls. Workers describe how, when they visit their former workplace, they have to confront this haunting from the past; and it is through these haunting experiences that their class identity takes on a new but often painful existence.
Critically reflecting upon a performance piece enacted by the author, this paper explores the value of artistic practice as a means for undertaking research. The performance was a piece of GPS drawing, using the movement of a body in space to write the word ‘RIDE’ across the city, subsequently represented in the form of a map. Scholars working in mobilities have increasingly been opening up the spaces of transport to critical enquiry, revealing the practices and powers enmeshed in the everyday activity of moving from A-to-B. This paper argues that in using a bicycle ride to create an art work – even one of little aesthetic merit – the author was able to create a new understanding of cycling practices that would not be captured through conventional social science techniques.
This essay offers an explanation for the highly stylized and expressive defacement of political campaign posters in the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan, that occurred during the 2009 presidential elections at the height of NATO’s war in the country. I argue that the practice of mutilating faces of candidates displayed on posters and the targeting of specific facial features is the handiwork of Islamist-tribal symbolic code Islamic iconoclasm, and sympathetic magic. It is the latter that animates the images of candidates thereby making them subjects shamed and dishonored through the violence of defacement, a practice that mimics the more painful symbolic inscriptions etched mostly on the faces of breathing women in Afghanistan.
Absence and presence have generally been discussed as two aspects of either a temporal or a spatial relationship. With an Arendtian notion of presence as the capacity to define space and to appear in front of others, this article explores undocumentedness as a condition of simultaneous presence and absence. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with undocumented persons in Sweden, it is argued that the undocumented spatiality is paradoxical and Möbius. This article shows how concealment, disguise, diffusion and appearance are key to the different manifestations of presence and absence in undocumented people’s lives. It also shows how undocumented persons, by using their politically absent yet physically present bodies as vehicles for practicing dissensus, can find possibilities for recognition and action in public space.
In this article, I explore some of the material aspects of the technological underground landscape of the Prague metro, the building of which started during socialism and has continued until the present. The materiality of the older parts of the metro is informed by and shaped according to a particular socialist world view. Since then, the metro has been reshaped not only ideologically, but also aesthetically and materially. The remnants of the socialist past as well as other agents of potential disturbance have either been expelled or made invisible. Nevertheless, the past remains rooted in the materiality of absence, continues its presence in the metro of today, and disturbs the experience of its smooth surface. The juxtaposition of what is absent with what is present also gives rise to ghostly figures, namely those feeding on contemporary anxiety of disturbance, potentially shattering the existence of the otherwise technologically perfect and unambiguous underground transport system. Concentrating on the affect of the metro’s material absences manifested in diverse ghostly figures allows me not only to overcome the view of the metro as a fixed, planned, ideological and technological space, but also to approach it in terms of its actual presence. Drawing on Vidler, I understand ghostly figures to be representations of the uncanny moment of a sudden view behind the ordinary appearance of the metro. Referring to Lefebvre’s notion of difference, I link the absences to the metro’s rhythmicality. I argue that ghosts resist annihilation because they are manifestations of difference within a rhythmic landscape. They are the results of the workings of the absences that form an inseparable part of the metro; the absences inform the rhythm as well as nurture the uncanny.
The first challenge faced by a project that seeks to bring concerns with ontology and indigeneity into a conversation is to sort out the various (and possibly divergent) projects that are being mobilized when the former term is used, not the least because what do we mean by ontology impinges upon how we can conceive indigeneity. In this article I play a counterpoint between two ‘ontological’ projects: one in geography, that foregrounds a reality conceived as an always-emergent assemblage of human and non-humans and troubles the politics that such assemblages imply. The other in ethnographic theory, that foregrounds that we are not only dealing with a shifting ontology, a (re)animated world, but also with multiple ontologies, a multiplicity of worlds animated in different ways. Thus, if the heterogeneity of always emerging assemblages troubles the political, the very heterogeneity of these heterogeneous assemblages troubles it even more. What kinds of politics and what kinds of knowledges does this troubling demand? I advance the notion of political ontology as a possible venue to explore this question.
This paper endeavours to track some of the numerous absences conjured up by the building stone of Manchester. As a vital, ever-changing materiality entangled within a host of relations, stone can evoke the now absent human and non-human agencies of the city. Absence is revealed through an affective, sensual and imaginative engagement with stony materiality, so that the absences of other places, networks and connections, distant lives and events, human remains, cultural practices and tastes, environmental conditions and its material effects, historical recognition and matter itself are made present and acknowledged. In honouring the numerous humans and non-humans that have been integral to the ongoing production of the city, I show that stone is one element in dynamic, ongoing urban re-composition and emergence, constituting part of the city’s ever-changing temporal collage.